Corey Koskie

For the Minnesota Twins third baseman, Corey Koskie, 1999 was a year of firsts. First major league season. First grand slam homerun. First in team batting average and first child for him and his wife Shannon. Not to mention the fact he's the first Manitoban to hit the major leagues.

But the one who Corey puts first in his life is God. "To some extent being a Christian athlete is easier," he says. "You have someone in your corner, there's someone to pray to, someone who takes away a lot of pressure."

Pressure is something Corey experienced throughout the 1999 season. With 10 rookies on the team, he was constantly trying to prove why he should have a regular spot in the line-up. "You can get into a trap thinking I'm better than this guy, why am I not playing over him?" he says. "But that's when prayer is important. I'd pray for God to keep me focused and to not get upset and angry with why I'm not playing."

Instead of sulking, Corey used this time to improve his baseball skills, especially his biggest weakness: defense. "Confidence plays a key role in defense," he says. "The more confident you are that you're going to catch the ball, the better defensive player you're going to be. That was one of the biggest things for me – confidence and working on foot-work and just catching the ball."

Gradually his hard work paid off. He played more regularly, and by the end of the season he was batting .310 with 11 home-runs and 58 RBI's in 342 at bats. He hit the Twins' only grand slam homerun of the year, and he had secured a permanent spot on the roster. Most importantly, he had matured into a recognizable team leader.

Not bad for just his rookie season in the major leagues. So what's next on his list of things to accomplish? "I'm just out there and if I have a good year, I have a good year," he says, "and if I don't, I don't. I try not to play for other people's expectations – I play for myself and for God."

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