Some of you may not know this about me, but I’m a student-athlete here at ACU. Long before I was writing for the Optimist, I was out on the softball field taking ground balls and learning how to pitch a good change-up.
Now, many of you know the emotional and psychological chaos of being a senior in college – almost being done with school, trying to figure out what to do next, worrying you’ll never be employed, etc.
Well, I’ve got all of that going on, but lately, I’ve also felt the added terror of finishing my athletic career forever.
I don’t know how to not play softball. I’ve been doing it for more than half my life. It’s been the focus of my entire existence since I began playing, and in about a week, I will begin my very last season.
While there are some things I will definitely be happy to be done with (6 a.m. lifting and conditioning), I’ve started to appreciate some of the things the sport has given me that I’ll miss most, and I’d like to share them with you before I begin my countdown to the end:
5) The competition. I’m a really, really competitive girl who will soon have no outlet for that side of myself. I’ll become like Monica in Friends, ruining every game for every person involved when I involuntarily yell and become violent.
4) The road trips. Free meals, free hotels, free transportation”¦ you get the picture. We get to travel the South, see other campuses and bond in charter buses with Mean Girls playing on the little television screens. It’s not ideal to miss so many classes, but somehow we manage.
3) The pride. Nothing will ever be as cool as putting on a jersey that represents something so much bigger than myself or my teammates. And getting to do that at a Christian university is a greater blessing than I ever could have anticipated when I was trying to get recruited.
2) The game itself. Baseball and softball have a bad reputation as sports that take a long time and don’t have much action. But it is so much fun to hit a homerun, strike out a batter or make a diving catch. All the athletes here can relate to this in every sport – if we didn’t find the game to be fun, we wouldn’t have built our lives around it.
1) My teammates. These women are not just in the trenches with me, they’re my sisters. We spend every day together, practice together, run until we puke together, travel together and have each other’s backs, no matter what. The thought of not having teammates ever again is the worst part of saying goodbye to this wonderful sport.
Honorable mention: The calories. For the most part, college athletes can eat what they want and not worry about it. If I continue those habits after I’m done with softball, I can pursue a new athletic career in sumo wrestling.