"I guarantee you, 100%, without a doubt, if you put any player on the field alone, they will lose the game."
I grew up in a program (7th grade to 12th grade) where the guiding principle was TEAM. That is the foundation our success was built on and success was something we had a lot of (shout out to my Lady Rebels). During the years where I was growing the most as a person and developing my own opinions and thoughts about the world, I was surrounded by the concept that I am but a small portion of a much bigger and better picture. I spent nearly every day of my young adult life being reminded of that. I had a coach who did an outstanding job of creating a level playing field. There was no special treatment for anyone – ever. We were equals. (Thank you, Coach Harris for that little life lesson called “Sit down. You are not that special.”)
In sport, I feel as though we place a lot of emphasis on certain positions, like these players are more important than others. These players get more attention and ‘press’ than anyone. And this isn’t something that is seen just in softball. In football, it’s the quarterback. In baseball, it’s the pitcher. In basketball, it’s the guy who’s throwing back sick dunks. So much emphasis is put on one particular position or player. Unfortunately, I’ve even played with girls (as I’m sure most people have at some point in time) who thought the rules didn’t apply to them because they were this or that. Through their words and actions, they came off as entitled and selfish. I’ve even seen coaches perpetuate this by treating them differently and giving them special privileges. (For the love of God, coaches, stop doing this. You’re creating way more problems than you know. Ever heard of team cohesion? Yeah, that’s a thing and it matters.) You can’t create a winning program if anyone has or is given a sense of superiority. (That’s why I don’t believe in having team captains. Your true leaders will step up and lead without a title.)
In regards to softball and baseball, I have a problem with the fact that the pitcher ‘gets the win’ or ‘takes the loss’. What? Why? Why do they get to take credit for the win or have to carry the weight of the loss? That’s crap. The last time I checked, this is a team sport and that pitcher wasn’t the only one on the field. Which brings me to my point: it takes nine.
I guarantee you, 100%, without a doubt, if you put any player on the field alone, they will lose the game. This is not an individual sport. It takes everyone. If you want to be a star, if you want all the glory and attention for yourself then go play tennis. Softball isn’t for you. How many times has a second baseman scooped some ridiculous throw I whipped at her off a bunt? A lot. How many times has a shortstop been there to take my throw when someone tries to steal on me? A lot. How many times has an outfielder saved my butt after someone jacked a change-up that I called? A lot. How many times has a pitcher been there to cover the plate after I’ve had a pass ball? A lot. I can’t play this game alone and neither can anyone else. You need every person on that field in order to walk away with a W and when you start singling out players you take away from the power of the TEAM.
So, stop. Stop giving the pitcher the win. Even if she strikes out every batter she faces, she still needs her hitters to put a run on the board. Stop giving the pitcher the loss. She didn’t lose the game by herself. There were eight other girls out there with her. It shouldn’t fall on any one person. The TEAM won the game. The TEAM lost the game. Stop isolating players. Stop blaming players. Stop crediting players. The TEAM rises and falls together. Mia Hamm said it best: “I am a member of the team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” Right on, Mia. Right on.