The Most Powerful Story You Will Ever Read

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Accountability. It is the defining word that any athlete or coach will be judged in life.

One of the most powerful presentations ever on this subject took place at the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention last January in Nashville.

Sam Cila, a retired Staff Sergeant with U.S. Army, served with the First Calvary Division out of Fort Hood, Tex. and worked in Special Operations as a sniper in 2004 and 2005 during the second Persian Gulf War. 

He nearly died after being seriously wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED).

“On July 4, 2005, my teammates and I were caught in an ambush,” said Cila.

“After the explosion, I lost most of my left arm. The brachial artery was severed one half inch from my heart and took severe shrapnel wounds in my left eye. I also took a bullet in my left leg.

“I went through over 50 surgeries over the years to correct the damage.

“Ultimately in 2008, I elected to have my left hand amputated (3 ½ years after he was seriously hurt).”

His life was saved by the quick reactions of his platoon medic who stabilized his wounds and evacuated him for additional care.

He received awards for Valor in Combat as well as a Purple Heart.

The physical torture this national hero went through during this difficult time took a back seat during his presentation at the ABCA Convention.

Instead, he painted a picture of why he failed on too many occasions as a young man and wanted to share his story with over 7,000 coaches in attendance.

“I learned about accountability when I struggled to take 100 percent responsibility in life as I failed forward.

“Sept. 11, 2001, I was working as a correctional officer in Suffolk County, N.Y. I had been at this job for 4-5 years. That particular day, I was scheduled to fly out to Las Vegas later in the afternoon with my girlfriend, who is currently my wife, for Bike Week. 

“That morning I woke up, had breakfast and prepared myself for the day and went off to the gym to get my workout in.

“That day and every day prior to that, I was only concerned about me and what was happening in my world.

“I was honestly self-centered. Nothing outside of that mattered to me. When I got to the gym that morning, it was empty which was really odd. I saw television monitors with breaking news. All of them were showing the same sort of reports. I never really picked my head up to see what it really was because, I am embarrassed to say, I didn’t really care. It was the start of my vacation, plans were set, and I was ready to go to Las Vegas.

“Nothing registered to me about what was happening other than hearing a few words about a plane crashing into a building. I thought some idiot crashed a plane into a building. I finished my workout and walked back to my apartment.

“I walk in the door and press my answering machine so it goes on. The two messages played. The first was that my vacation was cancelled, and I had to report for emergency services immediately.

“All I could think about was that my world was being impacted, and I was upset about it. I was mad and pissed off. It was unfair. Why is this happening to me, and why do I have to go back to work?

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb. 24, 2023 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Cila explains how he nearly died during an ambush in the Persian Gulf War, how he nearly died a second time when he was given a double dose of morphine for pain by accident from a nurse, how his personal life turned into a disaster at home and then how his life was turned around as he became a world-class athlete and not a victim any more.