A.J. Thank you so much for doing this interview. I know you’re a busy individual, we appreciate you doing this interview with us. Dream Muscle Athletes is a sports leadership blog dedicated to athletic leadership excellence. We put a lot of emphasis on the person of the athlete that others may get to know the athletes for who they really are. That people, fans, athletes, etc may be inspired to reach their goals and live their dreams.
1) Dream Muscle Athletes: AJ share a little about what you are doing now? I am playing baseball for the New Britain Rock Cats. This is the AA team for the Minnesota Twins.
2) Dream Muscle Athletes: AJ, what influenced your decision to play baseball? I have played baseball my whole life. I have been blessed with a lot of opportunities and to have the chance to play this long. I play the game because I love to play and it’s what I feel I am supposed to be doing right now.
3) Dream Muscle Athletes: What was it like growing up? Where did you grow up? I grew up in Minnetonka, MN, it is a fairly large suburb of Minneapolis. I was lucky to grow up with a great family and a neighborhood full of kids. We organized wiffle ball leagues and played games in the backyard. I had a great childhood.
4) Dream Muscle Athletes: What is your biggest accomplishment in life? Getting drafted was a huge accomplishment, it was very emotional to hear my name called from the draft room. It took a lot, so it was a huge step in my dream. I don’t know if it is considered an accomplishment, but I married an amazing young woman this past year. I am a lucky guy.
5) Dream Muscle Athletes: You were drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2011 as the 778th overall pick, what was the whole draft experience like? “ I kind of commented on it already, but draft day was pretty awesome. My whole family listened to the draft for hours and when my name was called it was an amazing moment. Something I will never forget.
6) Dream Muscle Athletes: What is your favorite sport other than baseball? I love to play basketball and I also really enjoy watching my brother’s games. I love football on Sundays in the fall, that is one of the most relaxing times of year for me.
7) Dream Muscle Athletes: Who has been most influential in your life? Family, coaches, etc. My parents have been very influential in all aspects of my life. They have taught me a lot about life by the way they live theirs. They are great role models for my wife and I as we embark on our journey together.
8) Dream Muscle Athletes: What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? This is a tough one. Being smart during the season is a key for me. Some people think doing more is what they need, but sometimes doing less is better. Our season is 142 games long, so it can get to be a grind. Sometimes taking days off or doing less can be very helpful in the long run.
9) Dream Muscle Athletes: What would be your ultimate achievement? To feel as though I am impacting others on a daily basis.
10) Dream Muscle Athletes: How do you set your goals? I was taught in college that setting goals is about what you can control. This means setting statistical goals isn’t always the best. I try to make goals that I am in control of. This could be anything from getting stronger in the weight room to making a certain mechanical adjustment to my swing.
11) Dream Muscle Athletes: What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?
My biggest challenge is battling myself. Baseball is an extremely mental game and sometimes the biggest thing in the way is me. I manage this challenge by working on my mental game on a daily basis. I frequently write about issues I am facing so I can work them out on paper.
12) Dream Muscle Athletes: You’ve had the chance to play at several ballparks throughout your collegiate and minor league career. Do you have a favorite park to play in? “ Target Field in Minneapolis is an incredible park and I was lucky enough to play there in college. LSU’s Alex Box Stadium was an awesome field and a great atmosphere.
13) Dream Muscle Athletes: What 1-2 things do you believe differentiates you from your contemporaries who have tailed off in their athletic participation and abilities? A lot of what I do is taking advantage of opportunities. I have been lucky enough to have someone believe in me wherever I have gone and when opportunities have arose, I have had success.
14) Dream Muscle Athletes: Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, and coaches)? One of my favorite books is called “The Seven Secrets of World Class Athletes.” It is a great book for any athlete looking to improve their mental game. I think there are a number of great mental training books out there and I recommend trying to incorporate their teachings.
15) Dream Muscle Athletes: What was the best advice you were ever given? “Sometimes when you stop trying so hard is when the best stuff comes out.” My dad told me that when I was trying to get playing time my freshman year of college. I have a tendency to work more and sometimes that isn’t the best solution.
16) Dream Muscle Athletes: Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by? I love the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It may be cliche, but I try to impact others throughout the day. I know God has me playing baseball for a reason and part of it is the relationships I am building and the platform I have to make an impact.
17) Dream Muscle Athletes: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from God’s plan for me. I am also inspired by my wife and my dad on a daily basis. They always have good advice when I am having a tough time.
Dream Muscle Athletes: How involved are you in your local community? I have done some community events wherever I play, but have a tough time sticking with anything because I don’t really have a “home.” I have lived in several different cities over the past few years.
Dream Muscle Athletes: What leadership quality do you possess that people seem to be attracted to? (Ex. Encouragement, support, speaking, etc.) I like to think I am encouraging. I try to make people feel good about themselves during games. Baseball is hard enough, I try to make people feel good about their game.
Dream Muscle Athletes: What are your plans after baseball? I haven’t decided yet. I would love to coach baseball at some point. I have a degree in Economics and I love to write. So at this point, maybe a mash-up of those three things.
Dream Muscle Athletes: If you had some advice to give to kids what would it be? Keep playing and enjoy yourself. Always do what brings you joy.
A.J.Pettersen attended college at University of Minnesota. He is now with the Minnesota Twins organization. You can follow A.J. on Twitter @apettersen1