Throughout the past month, softball has been hot and heavy. Especially the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. We have traveled five consecutive weekends with hardly any sleep. Some might say how do you have time for classes, friends, or family? Our answer is these are our friends and family and we work harder on our classes. As a supporting staff for the Jacksonville State Softball team, I see the hours of work these girls put in to perform their best during a seven-inning game.
Monday, March 19, 2018, is a night that will be burned in many peoples memories. On this night an EF-3 tornado ripped through the city of Jacksonville and most importantly across our beloved campus. Leaving many homeless.
The morning after we all looked over the damage and went to our beloved field where many hours of practice have been spent as well as many memorable wins for the Gamecocks. Once on the field, the girls see that the field they love is now in shambles. It is all but destroyed. Light poles look like branches snapped off trees and the bleachers that once sat behind the fence are now crumpled on the infield. I myself only saw only saw pictures Tuesday morning.
Later that day I would stand alone on a field that I love and cry because it is unlike any scene I've ever witnessed before. The as I stand there I remember the girls are alive, I am alive, the coaches are alive, and my fellow managers are alive. Everything on this field can be replaced.
While material things are sentimental and the field is sentimental we all share the love of the game. For our four seniors, three of them now have little to nothing. With their houses being whipped out all they have is the uniform for the game they love. Three of our juniors are in the same boat. While the girls realize they are lucky, they also realize they are lucky to be alive and healthy enough to play the game they love.
Noon on Wednesday we loaded a bus to come to Kentucky. That night in the hotel that other managers along with myself put together 17 brand-new white helmets. Thursday afternoon at 2:15 the girls opened up their helmet bags revealing the white helmets. As tears came to their eyes a glimmer of hope could be seen.
In the words of Coach Jana McGinnis, "This is a symbol of the fresh start we have been given, forget the past games whether they be wins or loss and start fresh." Along with those words Coach Julie Boland says, "Girls, white is the color of hope."
With a fresh start and hope in our back pocket, we know we are ready to conquer the conference. While we are still in an uphill battle we realize that we can be the Gamecocks that everyone knows us as. We can dominate the field and our opponents.
Not only does the Gamecock Softball team have hope, but so does the Jacksonville State University community. We all have the hope that we will build back and be stronger than ever. We will conquer this storm. With hope and a fresh start, we will be the Jacksonville State that everyone has grown to love.