People always ask, "Are you in a lot of clubs at school?"

"Well, I play softball."

And then we get a crazy look. Every athlete knows this look. The look that says "Are you crazy? Why do you waste so much time playing a sport?" They're never blunt about it.

Playing a college sport is something they will never understand. They feel as though you are wasting all of your time on something that is over in 4 years. Professional softball is not huge; therefore, we aren't trying to make a career out of it. For most people, diving around in dirt in scorching heat isn't really considered fun, but we live for every second on the field.

If you ask any softball player or any athlete their reasoning for wanting to play in college, it doesn't really include the enjoyment of waking up early every day to attempt to kill our bodies at 6 AM workouts. And it most definitely does not include the muscle cramps and knots we get after practice. However, we choose to look past these hiccups because we are motivated to reach that dream we've had since we first started playing.

When softball is done and over for me, I won't remember the number of games my team won or how many home runs I hit. What most athletes will take away from 16 or more years of hard work and dedication is something that no one can teach in a classroom. Being an athlete has taught me to fight for what I want, to be hungry (not just in the cafe) and humble, to appreciate my teammates and coaches who put in all the time to make you a better athlete and person, and most important of all, it has taught me to never give up no matter how tired and stressed out I am. It made me who I am today.

Therefore, if we come in class looking like we just got out of bed, we probably didn't. We were just too sore to put on jeans. Professors are going to roll their eyes and make snide comments when we tell them we're missing class, but for the record, every single one of us worked our butt off to get to this point. Maybe one day someone will understand that all the nights we stay up until midnight to work on homework, we have to turn the computer off at 12 in order to be able to wake up in 6 hours for workouts and that we have to stay organized just to keep up with school, practices, games, and meetings that seem to all happen at the same time. So please understand that if our eyes are half open during our 8 AM class that we are trying our hardest to stay awake, but sometimes we just have to give in.

When it's all said and done, there is not one thing I would change about being an athlete. Even though I want to quit when practice gets tough or when I'm in a slump, it's worth every second and I'm so thankful to have the ability to do what I love.