Matt Vogel speaks with conviction when he discusses his personal focus and drive towards achieving success in school or on the baseball diamond. That’s because he’s working for two.
His older brother Christopher has been in a coma for more than three years after sustaining life-threatening injuries in a July 2008 car accident.
Vogel, 16, now a junior at Patchogue-Medford High School and one of the top baseball recruits in the nation, was 12-years old when the incident occurred, forever changing his life.
He spoke with students from Longwood High School this week as part of the PAL Reach (respect education and always climb higher) program. His uncle Jerry Figgiani, an internationally known karate instructor and owner of East Coast Black Belt Academy in Middle Island, helps facilitate the program, which strengthens student’s focus through martial arts.
“Everything you do, you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for two,” Vogel told the students, many of whom are the same age as him. “I do it for myself and I do it for my brother. I work my best and I do it for two. I eat for two. I sleep for two.”
While Vogel has dealt with this ultimate form of adversity, he’s manufactured positive results in his life, winning two goal medals for Team USA at the in 2009 and 2011. He has also verbally committed to play at top-ranked South Carolina and is being scouted by a handful of Major League teams.
“Matthew is one of the best baseball players in the country,” Figgiani said. “He’s focused on what he wants to do in his life and he continues to stay focused. He could be falling apart, but he’s staying the course. I really look up to him for that.”
Figgiani told the students, fixated on Vogel’s Team USA jersey, hat and championship ring - five girls asked him for his autograph after the session -, that learning from other’s can have a positive outcome in their lives.
“By learning from someone else’s experiences we may be able to deal with something better,” he said.
Asked what his most memorable game has been to this point and Vogel didn’t hesitate when saying, “all of them.”
“You have to treat every game, or anything you’re doing, like it’s your last game,” he said. “If you don’t do that, you’re not focusing the way you should be.”