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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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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