Sometimes dreams change. They morph and evolve and there’s no shame in moving forward. And with them are old and dried up glory days, sitting in the dust. While you’re at it, there’s also no shame in the occasional over-the-shoulder glance back.
Since graduating high school several years ago (and staunchly changing my big-swinging dreams in the process), I have been asked a handful of times why I decided to hang up my cleats. Why didn’t I move onto college softball?
When I was younger, my ambitions were an open book. There were no secrets when it came to my dream, and the ultimate plan laid out for my future: I wanted to play college softball, and maybe someday have an opportunity to go further.
I was pretty vocal about wanting to play under Notre Dame lights, and my dad did everything in his power to get me ready for the next level.
When the time came to make a decision about my future, I surprised everyone, including myself, by enrolling in a college without an NCAA sports program. There wasn’t even a club softball option. Nothing; zip; nada.
While I loved softball so incredibly much, I ultimately chose the path I needed. When I was busy pushing my body and re-focusing on fundamentals, I neglected another, just as important, part of my life. Academics slipped out of my vision, as I ran off to practices and games. More specifically, I ignored my passion for writing.
Here I am, many, many years later, still thankful that I took the plunge into a major personal risk. There was less financial security without an athletic scholarship. I faced some light disappointment from a few supporters (my biggest fan included). And, I had to follow through. I needed to dive into an English degree full-force, despite the many whispers and negativity surrounding the “useless” major I’d chosen.
Through it all, I gained a priceless education, amazing experience, and support during a new season of life. Totally worth it, though the game will always be a part of me as I continue to move on to different, and maybe even bigger things.
No Place for Glory Days
Originally posted in the September 2015 edition of the CU Denver Advocate.
The moments punctuated with grimy sweat, gritted teeth, and sky-rocketed nerves were possibly some of the most rewarding of my life. Now my days seem clean and calm and unmotivated and procrastination-filled, which reminds me of the void I miss most—my days as an athlete.
I picked up a baseball at the age of three. When my hands were big enough, I learned to throw a softball. By my freshman year of high school I landed a spot on the varsity squad, and before my graduation I ranked third in the state for my batting average.
My home was on the field, simple as that.
I paved my future as a softball player for years. By grand design, I arrived to practices early, and left hours after. I plead for my coach to give me critical feedback and hit me extra ground balls. Then my dad would offer to hit me some more, and I happily accepted.
I excelled, and it felt natural that the next steps would be to play for a college team. I had Olympic rings lining my eyes every night before bed, and I rubbed them out of my eyes each morning.
Everything changed when I uncovered another captivation: writing. I always loved school, but when I enrolled in an AP Composition class, a new spark was ignited. Intensely. For the first time in my life, I imagined a scenario where I competed in a classroom rather than on a diamond, and where my achievements didn’t have to operate under a nine-inning time limit.
Many people were shocked when I called it quits on softball. Especially me. I even decided to enroll in a college without even an intramural team. It was difficult to deal with, but it was an opportunity to focus completely on academics and on my future as a writer. And I don’t regret it at all.
I no longer carry my glove with me at all times. I don’t have a handful of seeds in my pocket. The only eye-black on my face is the makeup lining my eyes. But I have this. I have the opportunity to write and to learn, and that feeling trumps anything else; even a walk-off grand slam on a blue-sky day.
My glory days are ahead of me, still to come.