"I wish I could do it all over again."
That quote has been floating in my mind for the past few days. As I sit back and watch Woman's College World Series, I finally admitted that I missed an opportunity to play varsity for my high school softball team. At the age of fifteen was my last time swinging a bat and throwing a softball. I was a late bloomer when I started playing. Many young girls start at tee-ball and slowly climb the softball ladder until high school and college. I started the game at nine years old, and from that point on, softball consumed me; not all athletes are born to have natural-born talent. I can say with a straight face that I did have natural abilities. I was fast, had an arm, and had power when I swung the bat.
During my tenth grade year was when I decided to take my talents to softball tryouts. The softball field was open two weeks before tryouts even began. If you aren't participating in any travel ball teams, then the two weeks would be beneficial to brush up on some of your skills. I told my mom about the tryouts and the practices that they would be holding. My mom asked, "Are you going to those practices?" I firmly said, "No, I don't need to practice" she looked at me and said, "ok." I treated this experience like the recreational league I joined. In the first week of practice, I'll get long-winded and be out of shape, and after that, my muscle memory got me back in the swing of things. I play like I never left. During that time, I didn't see the situation as being competitive. All of the praise, awards, and championship wins I've earned during my recreational softball days was enough to prove that I'm a good player, so I thought.
Finally, the time has come where I pull out my dusty cleats and glove to show these coaches that I'm the best player on the field. Nerves mixed with being out of shape captured one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life. I couldn't catch, run or throw as I know-how. Drills I usually excel in I failed. My lack of stretching caused me to pull something in my arm. I put the capital H in Hot Mess. I wanted to quit after the first hour. The only way I could redeem myself was by swinging the bat as I know-how. I wasn't the fourth batter for nothing. I earned the nickname clean-up hitter; there is a 99.9% chance to get on base after two outs with runners on the corners (players on first base and third base). My team knew that when I came up to bat, I would help my team score.
Well, it was to my surprised that I failed at swinging a bat. After that, I just knew that I wasn't going to be on the team. On the way home, I sat in silence, thinking of all of the mistakes I made during those tryouts. When I got home, I took a shower and tried to forget about that horrific moment. A few days after tryouts, the players are chosen for the varsity softball team—the list located outside of the gymnasium. In between passing periods, I decided to see my moment of truth. After I read what's on this list, two things will happen either I play another year or hang up my cleats for good. I know that I didn't have the best tryout experience but, I still had a small ounce of hope. I looked over the list and checked it twice, and my name wasn't on the list. I remember walking away saying, "Focus on graduation and my future. Softball doesn't pay the bills." As I sit and recount that day, I just used that thought to psyche myself out. I was hurt, and I didn't know how to express or talk about how I felt. I buried it deep down and my soul and never brought it back up until today.
If I learned anything when I lacked preparedness, I didn't get a slice of anyone's humble pie. I allowed my cockiness to overshadow the hard work and dedication needed to show up during those tryouts. I didn't know what it takes to be an athlete. I was ignorant of mental preparedness, nutrition, and practice it took to compete with the girls standing next to me. I have a habit of riding the hope train without doing my part. No matter the disappointment, a lesson can be found if you're willing to remain open and look at the brighter side. The older I get, the more I realized that the lessons are more significant than the problems.