Nine months ago, I sat in the upper level of Busch Stadium without a single clue of what my life would be like going into 2020. There were only two things I knew to be true on that day — I loved to write and I loved baseball.

If you were to fast forward my life from April 2019 until January 2020, it would be easy to see why the weekend of Cardinals Winter Warm-Up was so near and dear to my heart. I fought to earn a spot in the media room, sitting in front of some of the men who play baseball and ultimately helped change my life.

Without the St. Louis Cardinals and the passing of my beloved dog last year, Dugout Dish would not exist. After the death of Kirk, I pushed myself into baseball and months later, I created the site. Of course, I did not have a single clue as to what I would write about — until Christian Day at the Ballpark. Paul Goldschmidt told me and others that Jesus loves baseball and then I knew exactly what my first story would be.

I was given an opportunity of a lifetime — a chance to sit in the seat that I often dream about, my ultimate career goal. Something I have dreamt about since the age of nine, growing up on Baseball Tonight. Only instead of watching from the comforts of my home, I was in the middle of it all.

With the help of United Cardinals Bloggers, I became a part of the media covering the 2020 Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up. I proudly wore my media credentials around my neck during the two days I spent in St. Louis. (Often praying under my breath that I did not fall in my heels on day two.) I was surrounded by writers and people that I look up to, people who have the job that I can only hope for one day.

I’ll admit, my nerves did get the best of me at certain times throughout the weekend. What if I messed up? What if I tripped and fell flat on my face in front of people I want to work with one day? What if I ran smack into a player while running around with my Starbucks?

I sent text after text to some of my closest people, asking them questions and asking for guidance or just a laugh when I felt so overwhelmed by how blessed I was to be in the press room. My mother and my father, the two people who knew about Dugout Dish first, continued to send me love and “you’ve got this, Brooke.” Rachael stood outside in the lobby, waiting on me, being the little sister and friend that I needed most.

I can never thank the people who helped me, who have helped me get to this point, and who continue to help me grow as a writer in the sports industry enough. This started as a reflection for my time in St. Louis but honestly, this is the truth. This is how I feel when I think about my time there. St. Louis has my heart, Busch Stadium is my church, and I want to be in the sports industry for the rest of my life.

In the last six months, Dugout Dish has become my child. In the last nine months, I found myself again through my writing and through the sport that I have loved so dearly for over 20 years. If it weren’t for this website, this sport, and my faith — I would have never been given the chance to cover high school sports in my hometown, talk on the radio in my hometown, interview my childhood idol Jennie Finch, or bumble my way through when asking Paul DeJong one simple question in the press room.

So I say to you, never give up on your dreams — they are waiting for you.

Follow along @chelseabrooke for all things baseball.

Photo Credit: Rachael Ren/Daisy Hill Photography

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