For the people who have known me throughout my life, they would know that softball was a huge part of the person I am. My journey as a softball player has had its ups and downs. Every experience I went through has only made me a stronger person. Having softball in my life allowed me to dedicate myself towards something important to me. It also provided me with something I loved to do. Each and every time I stepped onto a field, I knew that’s where I belonged. Having that experience in my life is something I hope everyone gets to have.
One of the most difficult decisions I have ever made was recently when I decided to end my softball career. After the summer ended, I began playing softball for Penn State Altoona through my first semester of college in the fall season. Between the practices and the two games we got to play I truly succeeded and showed all my strengths as a player. But I knew something wasn’t right. Each time I had to go to practice or go to a game I didn’t have the motivation to do so. It was almost like I was “burnt out” from playing. All I could think about were my past softball experiences. It is hard to find the words to describe the feelings I was experiencing.
As some of you know, I ended my high school softball season the best we’ve ever done in all four years I had played. It was a season I will NEVER forget and I was so lucky to experience it my senior year. After the season ended, I continued to play throughout the summer with my travel team that I’ve been apart of for a couple years now. Both teams consisted of two amazing groups of girls and coaches that could never be replaced. The relationships I built with these teams turned into families. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on the different memories I have with them. Softball was my life pretty much every day of the week. I cannot thank all the coaches I have had enough. Especially my coach Greg Heydet. Not only for being an inspiration in his fight against ALS, but also for helping me learn every single aspect of pitching I needed to learn to succeed. He is an amazing coach and a person in my life that I will always be thankful for. Not to mention, he was the greatest influence for my love of the game. I also want to thank my Coach Engelhardt. He was one of the many reasons my senior softball season was so great and he always had confidence in my abilities. No matter what the situation was in the game, I knew he was in the dugout believing in me.
For the people who don’t understand why I quit, it’s because I got everything I needed from softball. It was a huge part of my life and still is. Everyday I wish I could go back and play on the fields where I grew up pitching balls to my dad. But now that I am in college, I have decided I want to focus on my future now. It is now time for me to focus my time and effort on my school work and myself, rather than on the field. Playing softball has shaped me into a dedicated, hard working, intelligent, and strong woman which will help me through any obstacle I may face in my life.
To my dad, it was a difficult change for him too. He spent almost all his free time from work to help me work on my skills. He helped me each and everyday to develop into the athlete I had become. Without my dad, I don’t know what I would have done. Whether he was kicking the fence when I made a mistake, lecturing me in the car after the games, or cheering me on every move I made on the field, he was always my #1 fan. The long drives to tournaments, the money he put into my lessons, and the support he always provided, helped me realize I could not have asked for a better dad. He has taught me how I should support my kids when I grow up. Most importantly, no matter what decision I have made about softball, including deciding to end my career, he has always backed me up on my actions.
As my life goes on, I will continue checking in on my high school team after every game they play as if I was still on the team. When my travel team gets to go to nationals in places like Disney World, all the memories I had with them will rush back into my head. But, all those memories will make me realize I couldn’t be more happy with myself for the decisions I have made. So even though I put an end to something I love, softball will forever be one of the biggest parts of my life.