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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To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

You had me playing in fear.
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"The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure."

As a coach, you have a wide variety of players. You have your slow players, your fast players. You have the ones that are good at defense. You have the ones that are good at offense. You have the ones who would choose to drive and dish and you have the ones that would rather shoot the three. You have the people who set up the plays and you have the people who finish them. You are in charge of getting these types of players to work together and get the job done.

Sure, a coach can put together a pretty set of plays. A coach can scream their head off in a game and try and get their players motivated. A coach can make you run for punishment, or they can make you run to get more in shape. The most important role of a coach, however, is to make the players on their team better. To hopefully help them to reach their fullest potential. Players do make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes that you learn and grow.

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You wanted to win, and there was nothing wrong with that. I saw it in your eyes if I made a mistake, you were not too happy, which is normal for a coach. Turnovers happen. Players miss shots. Sometimes the girl you are defending gets past you. Sometimes your serve is not in bounds. Sometimes someone beats you in a race. Sometimes things happen. Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

I came on to your team very confident in the way that I played the game. Confident, but not cocky. I knew my role on the team and I knew that there were things that I could improve on, but overall, I was an asset that could've been made into an extremely great player.

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court. You wanted to turn me into a player I was not. I am fast, so let me fly. You didn't want that. You wanted me to be slow. I knew my role wasn't to drain threes. My role on the team was to get steals. My role was to draw the defense and pass. You got mad when I drove instead of shot. You wanted me to walk instead of run. You wanted me to become a player that I simply wasn't. You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn't always successful with my weaknesses.

You did a lot more than just take away my strengths and force me to focus on my weaknesses. You took away my love for the game. You took away the freedom of just playing and being confident. I went from being a player that would take risks. I went from being a player that was not afraid to fail. Suddenly, I turned into a player that questioned every single move that I made. I questioned everything that I did. Every practice and game was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart would tell me to go to for it. My heart before every game would tell me to just not listen and be the player that I used to be. Something in my head stopped me every time. I started wondering, "What if I mess up?" and that's when my confidence completely disappeared.

Because of you, I was afraid to fail.

You took away my freedom of playing a game that I once loved. You took away the relaxation of going out and playing hard. Instead, I played in fear. You took away me looking forward to go to my games. I was now scared of messing up. I was sad because I knew that I was not playing to my fullest potential. I felt as if I was going backward and instead of trying to help me, you seemed to just drag me down. I'd walk up to shoot, thinking in my head, "What happens if I miss?" I would have an open lane and know that you'd yell at me if I took it, so I just wouldn't do it.

SEE ALSO: The Coach That Killed My Passion

The fight to get my confidence back was a tough one. It was something I wish I never would've had to do. Instead of becoming the best player that I could've been, I now had to fight to become the player that I used to be. You took away my freedom of playing a game that I loved. You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without confidence, you won't go very far.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Silies

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My First Warriors Game

My Visit to the Cathedral of Stephen Curry: Oracle Arena

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Last week I went to my first basketball game in probably 5 years, which is weird considering how much I talk about basketball. After going to this one, however, I don't think I'll wait another 5 years to go to another one. It helps that the team closest to where I live now is a potential dynasty, so the games are almost always going to be pretty great.


Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder 1st Half Highlights | 11.21.2018, NBA Season youtu.be


I went to the Warriors vs. the Thunder last Wednesday, the 21st, and had an awesome time, even though the Warriors lost by quite a bit (123-95). As a Rockets fan, I was surprised by my disappointment in the Warriors losing; shouldn't I be happy about this? The truth is, I don't hate the Warriors, even though I know I probably should. (I'll most likely be taking this statement back by the time the playoffs come around.) After moving to San Francisco, my mom, the biggest sports fan I know and the reason why I love sports, gifted me MLB.tv and League Pass, so I could watch my favorite teams in my dorm. However, because I'm on West Coast time, games that are played in later time zones normally end early, so I would throw on another game to have in the background while I did work. Normally, these games are teams playing on Pacific Standard Time, hence my newfound Lakers obsession. I watch a ton of other games to, including teams that I've probably never watched before in my entire life. For this reason, I think I developed a greater appreciation for each sport, as opposed to just one team. Now, I think the only team I can say I hate wholeheartedly are the New York Yankees (my mom is a Red Sox fan, so I hope you can understand this one).


Benches clear twice between Yankees, Red Sox youtu.be


But back to the Warriors game. Because I live in San Francisco, I had to make the trip to Oakland to get to Oracle Arena. Next year, the Warriors will be moving their home games from "The Town" to "The City;" a brand new arena located in the Mission Bay will be completed by 2019 for the 2019-2020 NBA season. So, this is the Warriors last season at Oracle, where they have been playing home games since 1971. In my opinion, the arena doesn't appear to be that old, but what do I know?


Chase Center Golden State Warriors 4K Construction Time-Lapse youtu.be


There was a light drizzle as we walked from the BART station at the Coliseum to the arena. The BART had been full of excited Warriors fans ready for the team to snap the losing streak they have acquired while on the road. There were also a couple of Thunder fans on the BART, but they kept to themselves.

We arrived at the arena more than an hour before the game, which wasn't terrible because I got to watch some of the players warm up. Steph Curry was not playing this game, so I unfortunately did not get to see him warmup (or do the iconic tunnel shot).

The national anthem before the game was an incredible performance. Evidently this girl, only 7 years old, sings the national anthem at many different sports venues around California. So, we were off to a great start!


#MaleaEmma (7 yo) singing National Anthem at Golden State Warriors game youtu.be


Now, I've been told that the energy at Oracle is incredible, but I think there is a caveat to this. The energy can be incredible, only if the Warriors are doing well, or really well. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that many Warriors fans are not used to losing. So, when their team goes down early in the first, they don't really know what to do. Despite the lack of energy from the fans (there was even a traffic jam going out of the tunnel in the arena in the middle of the 4th quarter), I really did enjoy the game.

Watching basketball from my computer screen in my dorm is nice, but seeing it played in real time gives you a completely different perspective of the game. It feels quieter, slower, and the court appears a lot smaller. This is very different than my experiences of going to baseball games. I love going to baseball games, don't get me wrong, but I often feel like it's harder to follow when you are watching it from the stadium as opposed to at home. Watching basketball live can give you new insights that you might not be able to pick up on when you watch a game from your couch.

The biggest thing you can pick up on? Chemistry. Seeing how the team plays together live can be the biggest indicator of how good they actually are. Being able to see the interactions between the players on the bench, during timeouts, and in-between the quarters was honestly my favorite part (given that they were losing).

Despite the final score, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I can't wait until I can get to another game. Hopefully next time I'll be able to witness the Warriors everyone knows and loves (or hates).

Here are a couple of games I wish I could have seen live:


Klay Thompson 37pt 3rd Quarter CSN Bay Area feed 1-23-15 youtu.be


Stephen Curry UNREAL NBA Record 2016.11.07 vs Pelicans - 46 Pts, 13 Threes, Most EVER in a Game! youtu.be


Houston Rockets vs GS Warriors - Full Game Highlights | Game 4 | May 22, 2018 | NBA Playoffs youtu.be

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