As a coach, I want you to succeed. I want you to push yourselves and improve. I want you to love this game, and come back to it time and time again. But first. I want you to be happy.
This is not just softball to me, this is life. When I ask you to tell me what makes a great player, I’m sure I would hear savvy base runner, strong throw, quick feet, hand eye coordination. But the characteristics I think that truly matter go much deeper than mere physical qualities and abilities. I think great athletes come from qualities like courage, persistence, selflessness and patience.
My entire career I’ve always heard, softball is an escape. But I never understood the true essence of that statement until a few years ago when I was working as an instructional aid in elementary schools. I had just moved to a new city where I didn’t know many people, my romantic life was a bit rough, my graduate program was working me to the bone, and I was trying my best to adapt to living in a large city. Emotionally I was struggling to get by on a day to day basis. Going to work at first was tough, I truly enjoyed my job but I could feel myself going through the motions. I was physically there but my mind was always wandering off somewhere else.
Watching my students fully immerse themselves into the daily joys of being a third grader made me realize I should be doing just that with them. For Pete sakes, my job consisted of hanging out with eight year old kids coloring and playing games. It was an amazing job to have. It was hard at first to really let go of life outside of work, but with practice I was able to fully enjoy myself everyday.
We miss so many of life’s wonderful moments by worrying about the past or future instead of living in the present. When I found myself doing this at work, I would make myself recite three to five things that were in my immediate present. Things like, “It’s a beautiful day outside, we are playing balloon volleyball, and I’m coloring in third grade again “. It shifted my focus back to what I was doing, it got me out of my head and let me simply live in the moment.
I didn’t recognize it’s importance at the time, but softball is what got me through every speed bump I hit from 8 to 22. The game was always something that was there for me.
It was a place where I could forget the world and dive into the reality of improving as a player and becoming successful in a game I loved. The satisfaction of working hard, improving, developing relationships, and being a part of something that was bigger than myself allowed me to establish a healthy sense of self-worth. It was my out and saving grace when the world got tough. It reinforced the notion that even when life gets tough, there’s always a piece of it that’s worth fighting for, there’s always something to enjoy.
With that said, here on this field I want you to develop into the people you want to be. I want you to take this time to be selfish. Shut out the rest of the world and better yourself here.
Quote of the day
“The wins and losses will fade away but the friendships and memories will last a lifetime”