Softball Factory athlete Madison Burrell was faced with a dilemma she never thought would come her way: “Should I hang up my cleats?”
Burrell was starting to feel like the sport that was such a huge part of who she is was beginning to consume her world.
“I was starting to become tired of how it was taking over my life,” the Gulfport, MS native confesses. “I was starting to dislike softball because I was having to cancel with my friends just about every time that they would make plans. I was missing events for family and there was little time for myself. My day was school, softball, homework, sleep and then repeat.”
Looking to the future, Burrell feared if she continued to play it simply would not be fun anymore.
“Whenever I would think of college it would be the same,” the Our Lady Academy high school senior admits. “My day looked like school and sports and I would not have time to explore and enjoy college life or just have a moment for myself.”
“What changed my mind was that I was going to be letting down people if I stopped,” Burrell reveals. “My dad has been dreaming of me playing on a college field since I first picked up a glove. I even felt like I was letting down the coaches at the Softball Factory who had worked so hard at fine tuning my skills and showing me that I needed to believe in myself and that it was possible for me to play at the next level.”
Not only was she considering how her choice would affect others, but most importantly she considered how it would impact her own life.
“I also saw that it would be getting rid of part of myself,” she says. “Softball was what I used to help me if I was sad, upset, or just not feeling right. It was something I could always go back to whenever I needed something to help settle my mind. I couldn’t bring myself to let those people down and lose this huge part of my life.”
Having been a part of the Softball Factory program since 2016, it is not a total surprise that Burrell thought of the support she has received from her Softball Factory coaches over the years when contemplating her future.
“I liked how the coaches showed you that if you work hard enough and listened that there is nothing stopping you from being able to play at any softball level that you want,” Burrell, who has attended multiple Softball Factory events, explains.
“The coaches would show you support throughout the program and help you with everything you wanted. Any question had an answer and support and encouragement. That is something that I found always bringing me back to Softball Factory.”
“On the field, the Factory has taught me to know the whole game, so you can play the game to your best ability and advantage,” she answers when asked if there is anything she has taken from her many Softball Factory events and applied it to her life, on or off the field.
“If you know the whole game, you not only help yourself but communicate better with your teammates and be in the best positions for fielding the ball, based on batters’ stances and have an anticipation of what is next in the game.”
“Off the field, I’ve learned to take everything as a team approach and see that everything has a cause and effect,” she continues. “What I do and what choices I make directly affect myself or one of my friends in the future.”
And that is exactly what the student athlete did when deciding what was best for her – and what was best for her – was to continue to play the sport that she believes “brings all different kinds of people together as a team and as a family” at the next level.
Burrell has signed her National Letter of Intent to play Softball for Lyon College.
“Signing my Letter of Intent was kind of a ‘WOW’ moment,” she exclaims. “It wasn’t until I signed that piece of paper that I felt, ‘I am going to play softball for this college, and they want me there.’ It was like my wakeup call saying that all the work I put in was real and worth it, that I am worthy of playing and it isn’t a dream anymore.”
The future Scot credits Softball Factory with helping to assist her with the recruiting process that led to this special moment.
“The Factory helped with understanding recruiting and also how to look for a college,” she explains. “Fit is important. Who doesn’t want to play for a Division 1 school? But that may not be the right fit. Understanding when you can contact a school and when you can’t is also important. The Factory and the coaches gave great instructions on when, where, and how to reach out and how to frame the first contact. It made the process so much easier to process and complete.”
Once unsure about playing softball at the next level, Burrell is now very eager to get started next year.
“I am most excited about all of the people I will meet and the bonds that I will make with my teammates, and to see the growth of myself both on and off the field,” she answers when asked what she is looking forward to the most.
“It feels like I have kept myself from making a mistake, she now understands. “I would have regretted by not playing. I am so excited to know that I get to continue playing and realize that I would have been missing out on something amazing if I had quit playing.
It feels great to know that there was a coach out there who saw my abilities and thought enough of them that they want me on their field. That I can continue to build on those skills even after the game in terms of leadership and teamwork. It adds to the belief in myself that others had in me during a time I doubted. So, it is amazing to know that I am able to continue playing what I thought I was not going to.”