This time of year brings the start of the season for collegiate softball. It's time to lace up the new cleats, grab the old glove, and run out onto every ball girl's favorite diamond.
Even though a year passed since graduation, I don't miss the game any less, and my passion for it hasn't extinguished. By the end of my senior year, many people were ready to hang up their cleats, but I'll always keep mine in the back of my car just in case. I know five, ten, even twenty years from now, softball will still be something near and dear to my heart.
So, as the season begins, I can't help but reminisce, and there are a few things I want the new girl to know.
First and foremost, congratulations. You made it to the college level, and that's an accomplishment in itself. I know how hard it is balancing school and a job, so adding a sport (and everything coming with it) on top of those is something worthy of praise.
Anyhow, as you put on y(our) jersey for this season, you'll see a few obvious things... The number, most importantly, maybe a leftover stain or two (for which I apologize), and the school name and colors now making up a large part of your identity.
However, what you don't see are the minutes spent soaking in fresh, spring air, warm sunshine, and the smell of mowed grass.
You don't see the dried tears wiped away on disappointed car rides home.
You don't see the smiles in the stands from parents and in the dugout from teammates after a big play.
You don't see the friendships on and off the field.
You don't see the flashes of doubt in worth and confidence.
You don't see the hours spent icing stiff knees and elbows.
You don't see the post-season wins, the seventh inning losses, or the firsts frozen in history.
You don't see the moments worth a lifetime of backyard catch, early practices, late games, and unconditional love from a career now passed...
Yes, it still makes me emotional knowing my time is over, but all good things must come to an end. Yet, I am hopeful because I know you now continue the legacy.
So, like a torch, I pass this jersey on to you. It is your's to make your own moments and your own memories to look back on for a lifetime to come. As I'm sure you already know, it is nothing to take lightly, so I know you'll handle this responsibility with great care.
Whether you wear this jersey for one season or your entire college career, know it is not just a piece of clothing. It is a temporary burden, a beautiful blessing, and an inseparable bond... Because in your moments of doubt, you can look down at your jersey and know you're not alone.
I wish you the best of luck in all you do, and may you hit the ball as deep as your love for the game. The moment is your's now... Make it legendary.