MINNEOLA, Fla. - Lake Minneola High School sophomore Adam Gottesman got into baseball the way a lot of kids start in the game.
"My grandpa, he grew up in Manhattan," said Gottesman. "Something that we always bonded about now is baseball and the Yankees, and all those guys. We always talk about'em. That's, that's really why I love Baseball. Just being able to bond with it."
But Adam's road to the JV team has been a lot tougher than most other kids. He has Complex Four Mitochondrial Disease, where his cells don't get enough energy, and it gets harder and harder for him to grow. It's a terminal illness, with no known treatment or cure. Most people with the disease don't live past their adolescence.
"We've also as a family been very consistent about not talking about the future," said Adam's mother Jill Kelley. "We just take it day by day."
Kelley was Adam's speech pathologist and around Adam's 4th birthday, Kelley took Adam in, so that he wouldn't end up in foster care.
The family eventually moved from upstate New York to Central Florida because Adam wasn't able to tolerate the winters.
Once he got to Lake Minneola, Adam tried out for the Hawks Baseball team.
"I did know I had to keep him," said Hawks Head Baseball Coach Kerry Whetro. "I knew he had to stay. I knew he had to be a part of what we were doing. I wanted to make sure that he was able to be successful in a game he loves."
So Adam started practice in the fall. Going through drills and running and workouts. And at the end of each game, he'd get an at-bat.
"There's nothing too big for him," said Lake Minneola JV Baseball Head Coach Rodney Zinn. "Everything we've asked him to do, he's exceeded it. What he lacks in baseball skill, he makes up for in heart. And I feel like if we could put his heart into a lot of kids, we'd have the perfect team."
"It's so positive. I mean he's just full of drive," said Lake Minneola Senior Keegan Zinn. "He's got drive that some kids will never find."
The key characteristic that's made Adam successful both in life and on the baseball field is belief. Belief in both himself and belief in the team.
"I mean when I'm playing to me, it feels like I'm unstoppable," said Gottesman. "And I know like my weaknesses and I know what I can and cannot do. Sometimes I over-push it, you know I push myself. And that's something that I've always prided myself on. Pushing myself forward."
Finding his place on this team has meant the world to Adam.
"Baseball has. And I think the kids have. And that's kind of really what I wanted everyone to know. It's that in the world that we see now, and it seems to be so negative, we have some great kids out here. Who are so supportive and so inclusive and never let him feel like he's any different than they are," said Kelley.
And as much as baseball has helped Adam, Adam has also helped his team.
"He has gotten this team to believe in themselves," said Whetro. "To believe in what they want, and it's obtainable. With me, fear doubt, and non-belief are no longer an option. Because after watching this young man and what he believes and how he succeeds in life, I'm a believer."