The sport of softball teaches you many life lessons not only on the field but off the field. One of the biggest lessons happened to me when I was eight years old. I learned at an early age how to overcome adversity, how to be a good teammate, and I realized that sometimes things just don’t happen the way you want them to.
I started pitching when I was seven years old. I pitched almost every day growing up; I absolutely loved it. I did everything I could to become better. I played on an 8 and Under Rec Ball team in our local softball league and was primarily our #1 pitcher. The biggest goal I had that year was to make the “A” All Star team. The A team would be the best 12-to-13 girls from the league and they would play all summer in different tournaments.
This would be my first year making All-Stars, and I couldn’t wait to play the whole summer and get better. There were many people throughout the rec ball season that said I was going to make the team, and I couldn’t wait for my parents to get that call.
Our rec ball season came and went, and it was time for coaches to pick the All-Star team. The way the voting goes for the All-Star team is that each manager selects girls that they feel should make the team. They are supposed to select the best girls on the A team, and then the second tier girls would make the B team. It turned out that all the managers that were voting had daughters that were pitchers, and all of those girls ended up on the A team.
Unfortunately, my family got the call that I was going to be on the “B” team. I remember being sad, shocked, and confused. I worked incredibly hard all year, I was the best pitcher in the league, and I was on the B team? How did this happen? This is when I learned that politics, as much as we don’t want them to be, play a role in sports.
I remember having a conversation with my dad about the situation. He said, “J, you can either not play on the B team and not play All-Stars because you are upset, OR you can play on the team and be the best pitcher that you can be and show them that they made a mistake.”
Even though I was extremely disappointed, I decided to play on the B team that year. Playing on that team was hands down one of the best things I ever did. I got to pitch all the time, received incredible coaching, and learned some amazing life lessons. Our team was one of the best B team’s that our organization had ever seen with our team finishing with an 18-4 record.
One of the greatest things that came from the situation was in the second tournament our team ended up playing our A team. We beat them 4-2, which to this day is the only time a B team has beaten an A team from our All-Star program.
My dad received a call after our second tournament from the coaches of the A team. They realized that they made a mistake and they wanted me on their team. Again, I talked with my parents about switching to the A team, but in the end I stayed on the B team. The B team didn’t have any other pitchers, and I did not want to let them down. I had made a commitment to my team and I wanted to stay. I already had a great relationship with my teammates and coaches, and I knew that being loyal was extremely important.
It is crazy to think that I learned some of my most valuable life lessons as an eight year old. I learned that even if you feel you deserve something, sometimes things just don’t go your way and to work even harder. Politics are a part of the sport, but never let them get in the way of you and your goal. Adversity in sports happens, but it is how you bounce back from that adversity.
I could have given up, not played on the team, or had a terrible attitude throughout the whole All-Star season. However, I was able to turn this negative situation into a positive and learn from it. In life, it is how you bounce back from these situations that can not only make you a better ball player, but more importantly a better person.