It’s so very easy for many of us to take for granted this game that we love. For parents, players, coaches and fans of fastpitch softball – it seems as if our lives are taken over by the sport. In today’s ultra competitive world of youth sports, so many kids lock and load on one sport and try to perfect the game at a young age in the hopes of gaining some sort of collegiate scholarship. Truth is, most of our girls just love to play this game that so perfectly blends individual skill and team talent with just the right amount of female camaraderie and socialization! We never stop and think what life would be like if there were no softball!?!
Recently however, our family asked ourselves that very question in relation to our 12-year-old daughter/player. In a whirlwind of events she landed in the hospital with a quick diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. It happened one week after returning from Florida for the World Series, and right after we registered for the new school year. It also happened just a few short days before school softball tryouts were being held.
When you get admitted to Children’s hospital with your kid, very little else matters in the moment. We weren’t thinking about softball, or her cross-country career. We weren’t worried about whether or not she would make the middle school softball tryouts. We didn’t care that we had a tournament scheduled just a few days away. In fact, softball – this Facebook page and our small online store were the very last things that we were thinking about. (A big Sorry to any of those folks whose ordered were late, emails neglected during that time)
But for the 12-year-old tough as nails little girl, lying listlessly in a hospital room with IV’s hooked up and nurses fretting around her 24/7, taking blood and sticking her finger every few hours, learning how to give herself injections of insulin, and trying to figure out how in the world her pancreas stopped working – softball was ALL THAT mattered.
Would I be able make tryouts? Can I still play softball? Will I still be able to run competitively? Tryouts are in 2 days, will I be out of here in time to go? Can I still play tournaments? WHEN can I play? These are the only things she would ask the nurses and doctors when they asked her if she any questions. And while she never once shed a tear, it was the burning of question of whether she would be able to play again that was truly on her mind.
The answer to ALL of her questions, was a resounding YES by all the medical staff. Of course, as new Type 1 parents, we didn’t know if that yes meant, yes – next season, or yes, next week. We never asked for clarification, our minds in 2 million other places, just like any parents whose child is diagnosed with something life changing.
On our second day in the hospital, the night nurse who entered our room, also a type 1 diabetic, asked my daughter about her hobbies. “Softball and distance running,” she said. Then this nurse revealed that she had just graduated college on a softball scholarship herself and showed my daughter her insulin pump that she wore during all of her games and practices. If there was ever an answer to prayers, this lovely nurse was just that. She seemed to confirm to my daughter that anything was possible. When her shift ended, she visited our room before she left and told our daughter that she would be playing in no time!
It seems silly really. But for kids, whose minds work so differently than ours, the big question was whether the things she loved to do and was passionate about would still be available to her. It was as if she could handle the injections, the changes in lifestyle, the every thing that type 1 diabetes diagnoses changes AS LONG as she could still play the game she loves. Fastpitch softball. While we as parents were thinking about so many other things, she just wondered about softball.
She had a few dark moments where she was curious about whether any coach would want ‘someone like her’ on their team. Possibly, there are some coaches in this world that would see a type 1 child and be too fearful to deal with it. Lucky for her, her middle school coach has been her biggest advocate!
We are only about 6 weeks into our journey. And our daughter was able to try out and make the middle school softball team just a few days after she got out of the hospital. She is still playing travel and excelling. Tournament play and the preparations that we have to take are different now than they were before. But one thing remains the same. Our girl is still playing fastpitch! Thank GOD for that.
While we try very hard to not make this page personal, we felt it important to share this message. For many of our girls, fastpitch softball really IS their life. (And a great one at that!) And while we don’t wish any parent to be in a situation where all that matters to their daughter is fastpitch softball, we do feel truly blessed that our daughters have found and fell in love with this sport.
(Interestingly, even though this girl is a die-hard Gators fan, she has reached out to Molly Fichtner, who is also a type 1 diabetic from the University of Alabama)