My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Did I make the most of my career?
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“Your time in college will be the best years of your life, be sure to cherish your time there.”

Most college students will hear this phrase many times while they’re in school, whether it be from relatives or from the chatty old lady who happened to notice your college T-shirt in the supermarket. I heard these words in this context for the last time during the opening ceremony speech at my last softball tournament. The fact that my time as a student athlete was soon going to be over didn’t hit me until that moment.

For most athletes, your entire career leading up to college is geared towards finding a school to play for: You go on recruiting trips during the school year or college camps over the summer, hoping that some coach will see your worth as a player and recruit you. Once you’re in college, that anxiety of finding a home goes away and you go back to playing the game relatively stress-free the way you always have. However, it's these years that athletes should really care about the most.

Having dumped so much of my life into my sport for so long, I almost felt like I’d blown it; I should have taken more pictures, paid more attention to each detail of each game, remembered every moment exactly how it happened. I should have worked on my hitting more, or worked out harder in the weight room. I should have started telling myself before and after every game that I am good enough, instead of destroying myself over everything I did wrong. I treated every season of my college career as if it were the same old thing, as though it would never end. Going into my last game, I suddenly regretted everything that I didn’t do.

Did I cherish these moments the way I should have?

My mindset on my final game day was to try to “do things right” at least once before my career ends. I wanted to remember my last moments as an athlete as much as possible, and this fueled a new fire within me. I almost felt high off of the (potentially caffeine-induced) adrenaline that rushed through my body during our pregame warm up. At the same time, a part of me was aching, knowing that day was the “last good day” of my dying career.

When softball becomes wrapped up into your identity, there are few things in life that make you feel the way you do when you step onto a field. Nothing makes you feel more powerful than hitting the ball on that perfect spot on your bat, throwing out a girl at second from your knees or pitching that backdoor curve and watching the batter watch strike three. Even bloodying your nose on a dive back to second base and having to finish the rest of the inning with mini tampons in your nose makes you feel a little sexy.

But no matter how softball makes you feel, you will still take off your helmet for the last time just as I did. You will take off your batting gloves and your EvoShield and put them on the bench, never to be worn in a game again. You will line up at home plate to shake hands with the opposing team, trying to hide the ugly crying that you’ve seen distort the faces of seniors that came before you. You will hug all your teammates for what you feel is the last time, and you may even lay in your dirty uniform in your room for the rest of the day. You can officially consider yourself a part of the generation of athletes that can start stories off with the phrase, “Well, back when I played...” However, what you may not yet realize is that this sport has given you much more than you ever thought it could.

Your ability to work in a team setting will forever be a bragging point on your resume. You will do things that will remind you of little moments with your team that will make you giggle when nobody's watching. Each scar on your body has its own story, each team picture has its own memory. Even though you don’t remember every moment of your time playing the game, the game will always live in you.

If you still have a year, two years or five years left playing the sport that you love, remember this: do your best to cherish the memories you have, but know that you haven’t failed yourself even when you feel like you haven't maxed out every aspect of your career. The fact that you were given the chance to play your sport for as long as you have is blessing enough. Remember what you can, and love every bit of what you can hold onto.

To those who have just handed in their jerseys for the last time: Don't spend all of your energy reflecting on all the “should have done” memories and “what-ifs" of your time playing your sport. The little girl that started this journey many years ago, with shorts riding up to her armpits and stickers on her helmet, couldn't have ever dreamed that she would have the opportunities that you were given or that she'd make it as far as you did. So when those doubts creep in, think of her and love the game as she did: Deeply and without regret.




Cover Image Credit: Kara Wall

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Why Your Grandma Is Your Biggest Blessing In Life

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There are many people in your life you are thankful for: Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, you name it. You are grateful to have people who constantly support you, who pick you up when you're down and love you unconditionally. But the one person who stands out among the rest of them is your grandma.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is The Best Person In Your Life

Ever since you were little, you and your grandma have always had a special connection. Going over to Grandma's house for the night was something you looked forward to. She knew how to entertain you at your best and worst moments. No matter what you did together, you loved it. Being with your grandma wasn't like being at home or with your parents – it was better. You went to the park, made cookies, went out to dinner, got a “sweet treat" at the mall, played Go Fish, took a bubble bath for as long as you wanted and got way too much dessert than you should have. You did things you weren't supposed to do, but Grandma didn't stop you. Because at Grandma's house there were no rules, and you didn't have to worry about a single thing. Being with Grandma was the true epitome of childhood. She let you be you. She always made sure you had the best time when you were with her, and she loved watching you grow up with a smile on your face.

The older you got, your weekend excursions with your grandma weren't as frequent, and you didn't get to see her as much. You became more and more busy with school, homework, clubs, sports, and friends. You made the most out of your time to see her, and you wished you could be with her more. Although you were in the prime of your life, she mattered even more to you the older you both became. You were with your friends 24/7, but you missed being with your grandma. When the time rolled around, and you got the chance to spend time with her, she told you never to apologize. She wanted you to go out, have fun and enjoy life the way it makes you happy.

Reflecting back on these moments with your grandma, you realize how truly special she is to you. There is no one who could ever compare to her nor will there ever be. All your life, there is no one who will be as sweet, as caring, as sincere or as genuine as her. Even though you're all grown up now, there are things about your grandma that never changed from when you were a kid. She still takes you out for your favorite meal because she knows how important eating out means to you. She writes you letters and sends you a $5 bill every now and then because she knows you're a hard-working college student with no money. She still helps you with all of your Christmas shopping because she knows it's your tradition. She still asks what's new with your young life because hearing about it makes her day and she still loves you to no end. Your grandma is your biggest blessing (whether you knew it or not), and she always will be no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Erin Kron

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4 Things All Former Athletes Miss About Being Part Of A Team

You WILL miss playing sports in college.

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Ever since I was a little girl, I was always on a team, until I came to college. You'd think that after a lifetime of constant practices, meets, and games that I would've been sick of sports by the time college came around. However, I still miss it so much. I miss goofing around at practices with my favorite people while doing the extremely intense workouts our coaches would give us. I miss riding the bus to every meet while blasting music the entire way there and back. Most importantly, I miss competing with all of my friends and cheering each other on for hours upon hours. There are so many things that I miss about being part of a team and I'm sure you do too. I have listed the top four things that I miss about no longer being part of a team.

1. The unbreakable bond that you have with your teammates

You would think that spending hours upon hours with each other at practices, competing, and team bonding experiences that you would be sick of each other, but you actually learn to love your teammates even more. You spend so much time together that they become your best friends and then you find yourselves hanging out with each other even during the little free time that you have.

2. The trust that you have placed in your coach's hands

You spent years trusting your coaches to make you the best at what you do. Spending hours at practices, working extremely hard to accomplish simple goals and them putting all of their faith in you as you compete in your weekly meets truly builds a social trust between you and your coach.

3. Going to practice every day to practice your heart out

Some days you dreaded it and some days you loved it, but no matter the day you always gave it your all at practice. You'll even miss the hard workouts that always kicked your butt because you loved how it felt to be super sore the next day and to know that you were actually getting better. Plus, you were probably always really fit and in shape so that's always good.

4. Competing at meets with your teammates

Getting out of class early a couple of times a week to lay on the bus seat and blast music with your teammates until you finally get to the school and then doing the exact same thing on the way back. Pretending your teammates hear you cheering them on while they kill it and pretending you hear them cheering you on even though you all are way too focused to hear that, but you still always appreciate it. Not to mention for some athletes, the awful tan lines that you low-key love, but could never get rid of your entire life.

Being part of a team is one of the best experiences I've ever had and I will forever miss it.

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