It was the beginning of the fall 2019 semester at Montclair State University when Perry Quartuccio walked into professor Robert Gilbert’s psychology of sports class. Quartuccio was a sophomore pitcher for Montclair State’s baseball team at the time, studying psychology and minoring in sports coaching. He was ultimately walking into a class that connected both his passion for the two simultaneous subjects.
An early 8:30 a.m. class on a Monday is not something that most college students look forward to, especially after a fun and relaxing weekend. Gilbert, however, came into class with a lot of energy like his normal self. He began to preach: “You guys should write a book, break a world record.” Gilbert’s enthusiasm and passion comes from wanting the best for his students in anything they want to do in life.
“I don’t want my kids to just graduate, I want them to be in the history books,” Gilbert said.
Quartuccio, like most college students, listened, but never took the opportunity seriously.
“I’m sitting there [saying], ‘well I’m 19 years old, I’m not going to write a book, so I’m just going to stop listening,’ and I zoned him out,” Quartuccio said.
For Gilbert, thrill comes from helping people have a breakthrough in some part of their life. That breakthrough for Quartuccio came when he began forming thoughts in Gilbert’s class.
Quartuccio still felt inspired after that first class, and he began to formulate ideas in his head during every one of the classes. Slowly thereafter, Quartuccio began to write a book and connect with other like-minded individuals in the baseball world that he wanted to focus on.
Recruiting, dealing with adversity, overall advice and success through baseball was the theme throughout the creation. Four pages had been written when Quarticcio felt defeated.
“After I wrote those four pages, I said, ‘this is stupid, I’m not going to finish this book,’ and closed the document,” Quartuccio explained.
The notion of writing a book may feel impossible for most people, including Quartuccio himself. It was not until March of this year, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced classes to shift to fully online, when Quartuccio reopened the document and felt the energy of his writing again.
After hanging up his cleats and transitioning into coaching younger players, and embracing the free time the pandemic brought him, Quartuccio began to only think about the book he started and the ideas he had.
“Quitting baseball, that experience and that paradigm shift was totally different to me,” Quartuccio said. “I was focused on playing [in September], not really [on] writing.”
Quartuccio began to put all his time and energy normally devoted to baseball into the creation of his book. He was able to connect his baseball career and the beginning of his coaching career, transferring those thoughts onto paper. He felt destined and on the right path, not regretting his decision to stop playing baseball after so many years.
Mental performance was an important aspect that Quartuccio wanted to relay to readers in his book. The topic is growing throughout sports, especially in baseball, where teams are hiring coaching teams to work with players on the mental aspect of their game.
“It’s such an overlooked part of the game; baseball is such a mental game,” Quartuccio said. “People need to train as much on the mental side as they do the physical side.”
It took late nights and countless hours, reaching out to coaches and figures in sports to tie his book, “Reaching Home Plate,” together.
Quartuccio was fortunate to connect with Brian Miles, a mental performance coordinator for the Cleveland Indians. Miles’ experiences in the business of mental performance helped Quartuccio truly understand the importance for him, on and off the field.
What Miles and so many other coaches did for Quartuccio, in taking the time to talk to him during the pandemic, meant a lot to him.
“Getting to learn and pick their brain about so many aspects of the sport, they took the time out of their day to talk to me, this college kid writing a book, [and] it was just awesome to talk to them,” Quartuccio said.
Without a doubt, the biggest inspiration through it all comes back to where it all started, in Gilbert’s psychology of sports class.
“Without [Gilbert’s] energy in class, without his crazy ideas, I definitely wouldn’t have had the slightest bit of thought to write a book,” Quartuccio said.
Gilbert relished in the thought that he was able to inspire one of his students at Montclair State.
“Incredible, incredible that I can have that effect on a person,” Gilbert said.
Today, Quartuccio is beginning his coaching journey with Power Pitcher and Hitting Baseball, incorporating the mental performance aspect into youth baseball. Connecting and building relationships with his players is what Quartuccio looks forward to doing each and every time he steps out onto the field.
Quartuccio’s ultimate goal is being a part of a mental performance staff for one of the 30 MLB teams. He can already picture the moment in his head.
“I want to be in spring training, working with these guys one-on-one or in group settings with the team,” Quartuccio said.
Quartuccio finds guidance in a simple quote that carries him throughout his everyday life.
“People won’t care what you know until they know you care about them,” Quartuccio said.