To The Game That Gave Me More Than Just Trophies

To The Game That Gave Me More Than Just Trophies

To all of you who I was lucky enough to know because of this game, thank you.
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As I grow older and look back on my childhood, there are things that I can look at and say, "That made me who I am today." Playing the game of softball is one of those things. But it brought so much more than a shelf full of trophies and a tolerance to dirt.

I can't even tell you when it was that I officially began to play softball. I'm sure I was one of those 6-year-olds out on the Little League field, hitting the ball to the pitcher and running the wrong way around the bases. What I can tell you is the day that it began to take on some meaning, and that was the summer I was 11 years old.

That day, I vowed my summers to early mornings, awkward tan lines, sore arms, scorching heat, and dirt everywhere. Had I known at the beginning of my career that that's what my weekends would entail every single summer, I honestly might not have signed up. I also didn't know that it was one of the best decisions I would ever make.

Yes, winning tournaments and beating those annoying teams gave me so much joy and pride at times. But nothing compares to the lessons I learned, the coaches I played under, and the lifelong friends that I made.

To my parents who supported and encouraged me—I think that playing a sport as a child is one of the best things that my parents could have encouraged me to do. As a child, I didn't know who I was, or what I expected from myself, or my ability to be a leader or a follower. All the while, though, I was figuring it out, I just didn't know it. There aren't enough thanks in the world to give to you—for all the money spent, the early mornings driving two hours to an 8 a.m. game, the packed lunches, the sunscreen lotion, the gas station runs you made for Gatorade and water—and most of all, your love and support. I always felt like the best player in the world after a good game, and that's because of you. To all of the parents of my teammates—you loved me like your own and made it feel more like a family than a team. Thank you for the bottles of water, the granola bars, and the hugs. You will always be my "other parents."

To the teammates and coaches who taught me to be a leader—my ability to become a leader is all due to the situations and people who pushed me to be one. Had I not played softball, I would have never gotten the opportunity to practice things like leadership. Playing sports also teaches you how to stay within your moral compass. When all you want to do is cuss at the girl who laughed at your teammate, you learn to leave it on the field. You prove your point by how you play, not what you say. Without softball, I may never have learned these lessons and received the opportunity to put them into practice. I think about how I dealt with softball situations so much still, and apply them to situations I am presented with even now in college.

To the coaches who believed in me even when I didn't—everyone has those adults in their life that aren't their parents, but you still trust them as if they were. I was so lucky to be coached by some of the most admirable, funny, genuinely caring coaches throughout my eight years of travel softball. My coaches pushed me, challenged me, and made me the best player that I could be. I trusted them, not only with their hitting signs from third base, but also with my life. And I still do to this day. Even though our time together on the field is done, I know that our friendship is not.

But, after all these great things I have learned and great people I have had the privilege to be coached by, nothing beats the lifelong friendships I have made on that field.

To the girls who became my best friends over some fly balls and strikeouts—there is just something about a sport, something about softball, that brings people so close that the bond never breaks. You know these people like the back of your hand—you know their habits, their family life, their favorite bands, their best home run, their pet peeves, their favorite pitch to hit, their hobbies, their most embarrassing play—the list could go on forever. Endless inside jokes and sideline cheers. Hotel weekends will never be as fun. Early mornings and absolutely horribly, ugly games.

You grew up with these girls; you went from wearing no bras under your jerseys to having to wear two. From straining to throw the ball from outfield to the pitcher, to being scared to catch your teammate's throw, from sweet, innocent 10-year-olds, to fun-loving softball players. These are your "people." Doesn't matter when you stop playing, they'll always be your people.

To the girls who are the midst of it all right now—those early mornings and sprints may seem horrible now, but trust me, you're going to miss them. Cherish every moment you have on the field, and don't take any pitch for granted. Play the game well, but love your team even more.

There are an endless number of thanks that I could give out. To anyone and everyone who I had the privilege to cross paths with in my softball career—you helped to make me who I am today, and made the sport of softball much more than just a game. I miss it more and more every day, and am thankful for the mere eight years I got.

Cover Image Credit: Dorian Carpenter

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5 Of The Most Talked About Prospects For The 2018 NFL Draft

Who is destined to become the next big star?
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The NFL Draft is coming up, and in the sports world, it has been the talk of the town. Not only are there multiple quarterbacks creating major buzz, but prospects like Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, and many more are also having sports reporters and journalists going crazy. However, throughout the past few months certain names have been repeatedly brought up more than others.

1. Sam Darnold - QB - USC

Height: 6'3 Weight: 220 lbs

Positives: Sam Darnold is arguably the best quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. His natural instincts and his natural ability are off the charts, not to mention he has a high football IQ. He is also extremely physical, and sneaky fast and is the perfect prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, 6'3, 220 lbs. With his massive size also comes massive strength. Darnold has shown over time that he can throw the ball short or far with great timing and more importantly great accuracy.

Negatives: Sam Darnold struggles with ball security, and he also struggled with throwing interceptions a bit through his career. He threw 13 interceptions, and 9 the previous year. Darnold gets himself into trouble when he tries to force balls into coverage and tight windows. It is here where he can either make an amazing throw or a questionable one.

2. Josh Rosen - QB - UCLA

Height: 6'4 Weight: 226 lbs


Positives: When people talk about Josh Rosen, one thing that is repeatedly brought up is his throwing motion and the fact that he is the best "pure passer" in his class. Rosen is known to have a perfect throwing motion and a perfect release. Not only is his throwing motion "flawless", but he can also sling it. He has the ability to throw the ball very far and precisely.

Negatives: Possibly one of Rosen's biggest downfalls does not have to do with any physical attributes, but how he handles things on and off the field. Quarterbacks are often seen as the team leader; Rosen's leadership has been put into question multiple times, and he has been known to be too cocky and more about himself than the team, which can sometimes get him into trouble on the football field.

3. Saquon Barkley - RB - Penn State

Height: 6'0 Weight: 233 lbs

Positives: Saquon Barkley is extremely gifted athletically. He is the perfect size to make a difference for any team in the NFL. He is a multi-talented running-back because he is an amazing runner and also an amazing catcher. Not only does he excel at his position, but he has also been known to be an incredible young man who is willing to put in the work. Barkley also does not fumble a ton, and his jumping ability is incredible with many hurdles to show for it. Out of every running back in the combine in the past 12 years, Barkley has the 8th longest vertical jump.

Negatives: Barkley has been known to get "too cute" with the ball, and has only modest broken tackle numbers at Penn State. Barkley also has had a lot of negative yardage plays in his career. The last reservation on Barkley is his position itself; running-backs have extremely short careers in the NFL compared to other positions. Teams may have reservations at drafting a RB too high when many of the top running backs in the league have come out of the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

4. Bradley Chubb - DE - NC State

Height: 6'4 Weight: 269 lbs

Positives: Bradley Chubb is overall an freak of a player. At NC State he has gotten better every year, and he finished his senior season with 10 sacks and 23TFLs (Tackles for losses). He is extremely physical and fluid, and also has a lot of speed that should translate to the NFL. His physical attributes and speed help him have a strong presence in the run game as well.

Negatives: There are not many negatives when it comes to Bradley Chubb, but many have concerns over his size, 6'4, 269 lbs. Many refer to Bradley Chubb as a "tweener" which means he may be too small for a defensive end, but too big for an outside linebacker.

5. Quenton Nelson - G - Notre Dame

Height: 6'5 Weight: 329 lbs

Positives: Quenton Nelson is defying the odds because of how rare it is to have a guard be drafted within the top 10 let alone the top 5 picks. The last time a guard went in the top 10 was in 2013. Nevertheless, Nelson has proven he deserves to go in the top 10. Many have called him elite, and think that he could play at any position on the line.

Negatives: One of the only things wrong with drafting Quentin Nelson early is because he is a guard. Part of the reason guards rarely get drafted in the top ten is because they do not have as much of an impact on the game as some of the other positions, like left tackle especially. This is not to say that this position is not one of the most important; it is just unlikely that guards are taken this early in the draft. It is more common to see quarterbacks, running backs, and defensive ends taken in the top 10.

Cover Image Credit: fantasyfootballmetrics

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The "Mocked" Draft

Once trades get involved, chaos happens.
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So in my Mock Draft 1.0 and Mock Draft 2.0 I had one rule, no trades. It makes things super complicated, and it is way more difficult to predict what trades will happen and how much will be traded. Still, they will happen and it will turn most Mock Drafts into chaos.

That being said, I might as well give it a go.

This the Mock Draft 2.1, which will be a One-Round Mock with LOGICAL trades. I'm not going to pull a Colin Cowherd and project the Patriots trading up to number one to draft Sam Darnold. All of these trades will make a lot of sense, and fit both team (I would say benefit, but sometimes teams don't make smart choices).

I will add what was exchanged after every pick, but other than that the format is the same as the 1.0

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, Wyoming - QB

2. (Trade) Buffalo Bills: Sam Darnold, USC - QB

The New York Giants receive the 12th pick, the 22nd pick and the 52nd pick from the Bills.
The Bills get the 2nd pick from the Giants.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma - QB

4. (Trade) New England Patriots: Bradley Chubb, NC State - EDGE

The Cleveland Browns receive the 7th pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 31st pick from the Patriots.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive the 23rd pick and the 43rd pick from the Patriots and the 64th pick from the Browns.
The Patriots get the 4th pick from the Browns.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, UCLA - QB

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quentin Nelson, Notre Dame - OG

7. Cleveland Browns: Saquan Barkley, Penn State - RB

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, Ohio State - CB

9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, Georgia - ILB

10. Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech - LB

11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, Washington - DT/NT

12. New York Giants: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama - DB

13. Washington Redskins: Da'Ron Payne, Alabama - DT/NT

14. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Ridley, Alabama - WR

15. Arizona Cardinals: Jaire Alexander, Louisville - CB

16. Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma - OT

17. LA Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame - OT

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, Florida State - S

The Seattle Seahawks receive the 23rd and the 64th picks.
The Buccaneers receive the 18th pick and the 120th pick from Seattle.

19. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, Iowa - CB

The Dallas Cowboys receive Earl Thomas from the Seahawks.
The Seahawks receive the 19th pick from the Cowboys.

20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, UTSA - DE

21. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, Iowa - C/G

22. New York Giants: Will Hernandez, UTEP - G

23. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia - G

24. Carolina Panthers: Mike Hughes, UCF - CB

25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, Boston College - EDGE

26. Atlanta Falcons: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State - LB

27. New Orleans Saints: Arden Key, LSU - DE/EDGE/OLB

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, Stanford - S

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, S. Carolina - TE

30. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, Louisville - QB

The Minnesota Vikings receive the 47th pick in 2018 and a third-round pick in 2019 from the Cardinals.
The Cardinals receive the 30th and the 225th picks in 2018 from the Vikings.

31. Cleveland Browns: Kolton Miller, UCLA - OT

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams, Texas - OT

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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