"If you respect the game in all its glory, if you do it with passion, then it will pay you back in ways you could have never even imagined." - Caitlin Lowe
A Strong Work Ethic
A work ethic is something that never goes out of style and will be required to do any job in this world. The game taught me how to work hard. It taught me to take pride in my work and my effort. I never wanted to be the player who got by on raw talent. Ever heard the saying "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard"? Well it's true. As a coach, I'd much rather have average talent players with high work ethics than high talent players with low work ethics. My high school coach taught me everything I'd ever need to know about what hard work looks and feels like. It looks like five more push ups because we didn't protect the ball. It looks like another round of defense because repetition builds skill. It looks like a five hour practice on a Saturday because we'll do whatever it takes to be better than the competition. It looks like one more sprint just because we can. We don't quit because we are tired. We quit because we are finished. Take pride in what you're capable of giving to your team. Anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
A Sense of Responsibility
Lack of responsibility is something, that, in my opinion, is unacceptable. YOU are responsible for YOU. Your mom isn't responsible for packing your bag - YOU are. Your roommate isn't responsible for waking you up - YOU are. The umpire is not responsible for your strike out - YOU are. The game taught me that no body cares about my excuses. I was late? Well guess what? Now the entire team gets to run for it. The game taught me that I am responsible for doing everything I can do to look out for the team. Your teammates are counting on you to show up and be present. They are counting on you to work hard and improve. They are counting on you to give your best day in and day out. When you decide to play a team sport, understand that you also signed up to do whatever it takes to take care of and protect the team.
I had coaches who yelled at me on the field in the middle of the game. I had coaches who benched me. I had coaches who punished me. I had coaches who were hard on me. I survived and am better for it. Parents, you do your child an injustice when you don't let a coach be hard on them. I can assure you, as an adult who has been a coach, no one is out for your kid. They are KIDS. I don't plot against children. I try to make them the best they can be. When I coached this past year, I had parents rip me up one way and down the other for the way I ran my team. Everyone isn't going to agree with you. Everyone isn't going to like the way you do things. That's okay. You'll have people your entire life critiquing your work. Toughen up, learn how to deal, and move on.
How to Succeed & How to Fail
I've experienced a lot of success in this game and I've also experienced a lot of failure. The game has taught me how to win and lose with class. It taught me how to pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again. Life will knock you down time and time again. That's okay as long as you don't stay down. Win or lose, rain or shine, hold your head high, carry yourself with dignity, and take care of business.
The game taught me to be independent. It taught me how to take care of myself away from my parents. Moving to another state to play ball at 18 made me grow up and learn how to be an adult. I had to learn how to balance school work, softball, friends, and personal time. I had to learn how to budget money. I had to learn how to navigate in a completely foreign place. I encourage girls to go to college away from home after high school. Start over in a new city where you don't know anyone and where there's no one to take care of you but yourself. Now, I can move to a new city or new country where I don't know anyone at the drop of a hat. That sense of independence has opened doors for me and provided me with opportunities that less independent people would be too scared to take.
Networking and Friends
My social network is vast and it's all because of the game. I know people all over the place! I have so many connections and have made so many friends through my experiences with softball. Every single one of my close friends I have played softball with. I've had the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people over the years through travel ball, college ball, coaching, instructing, and post-college ball. There's a lot to learn from the different people you meet through the game.
You may think softball is just a game, but for me, it is my career. And how great is it to play a game your entire life and get paid for it?! My love for the game led me to coaching and will lead me back again when I can no longer play. But what my parents thought would just be a hobby when they signed me up at age five turned into the greatest gift they ever gave me. They shaped my entire future with the decision. The game has given me a life long passion and the opportunity to pursue it.
Travel is huge right now. Have you been on Pinterest lately? The game has taken me to so many places that I otherwise wouldn't have seen. I've played in the US, Canada, and very soon, Austria. I have lived in three states and two other countries because of the game. I have been to countless cities and played on countless diamonds over the years. I started playing travel ball when I was 8 and never looked backed. I'm so excited to see where else the game takes me. Check out the map below to see all of the places softball has taken me in North America.
The list could go on and on. The game has given me countless attributes, experiences, and qualities. It has shaped me into the person I am and has allowed me to chase a dream. It's given me so much and can do the same for you. "If you respect the game, in all it's glory, if you do it with passion..."