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high school athletes with pro baseball player David Ross
Congratulations to the 2018 Chicago Tribune Athletes of the Year! From left to right: Alyssa Malicki, Klaire Steffens, Evan Lewandowski, Michaela Schmidt, David Ross, Mia Piljevic, Fabian Lopez and Spencer Walker. Not pictured: Kevin Cunningham and Sara Rosenfeldt
posted in: Community
by Kristin Smith

We went back to high school with David Ross

What do you get when you put standout young athletes, 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs former catcher, David Ross, members of the Chicago Tribune, and COUNTRY Financial® in a gymnasium on the 7th floor of Jones College Prep High School in Chicago? Great stories, a lot of laughter, and some pro tips from “Grandpa Rossy” that apply to more than just sports. 

Why is COUNTRY Financial involved?

As the supporting sponsor for the Tribune’s Athlete of the Month (AOTM) program, we have the privilege to present each AOTM winner, selected online by Chicago Tribune readers, with a $500 scholarship for their outstanding achievements in sports. Nine athletes from that group are selected as Athletes of the Year and receive a $1000 scholarship, provided by COUNTRY Financial, each year at the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Lit fest. So, whether we’re sitting next to you in the stands or coaching your kids little league team, we’re rooting for your young athletes on and off the field. 

What did we learn?

If you’ve had the opportunity to read David Ross’s book, “Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages,” then you know he focuses the story on how learning to be a good teammate contributed not only to his success, but the success of his team. David was generous enough to answer a few questions for us after meeting with each of the students.


David Ross being interviewed by reporter

“Grandpa Rossy” giving the crowd a behind the scenes glimpse of a championship season. 

What’s the most important characteristic you need to be a good teammate? Accountability. I think accountability is lacking in so many areas of life. When you’re on a team, being accountable to your teammates, whether you’re on or off the field, is an important one for me.

Which characteristic is the hardest to learn? Unselfishness. Selfishness is at the heart of all of us naturally. When you can get outside of yourself and your first thought is how to lift up others, you’re on your way.

What steps did you take to cultivate these traits in yourself? I learned a lot of hard lessons. I made a lot of mistakes. One of the things I talk about in my book is learning from the hard times and not making the same mistakes. I think failure really is birthplace of success – it’s where we’re going to learn. 

What's the most important thing you would tell a young athlete or someone starting a new career, about success? Be selfless. Be accountable for the good and bad, especially the mistakes you make. Learn from those mistakes. And remember that you can’t be serious all the time. Work hard and have fun. I had a lot of great teammates that taught me how to enjoy life and that really helped me, especially at the back end of my career.

You kept a journal throughout your season. What did that teach you? For me, I saw how much others were doing for me. I don’t feel like my success came from anything I really did, it came from what others did for me. The way my teammates lifted me up, what they said to the media, the more I thought about how people made me feel opened my eyes to what a great group of guys I was able to play with.

There you have it, folks. Words of wisdom from “Grandpa Rossy.” On a serious note though, his qualities for success aren’t only relevant to baseball. Unselfishness, accountability, and lifting others up are characteristics you need to succeed in life. Without knowing it, David hit at the core of what COUNTRY Financial strives to do every day, in our communities and in our business.

What other attributes do you need to be successful in anything you do? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

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