Why I Gave Up Playing Softball in College
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to play softball in college. It was always been my dream.
For over ten years I played competitive travel with big organizations and school ball. And I loved them both. When I was a freshman in highschool my dad became my recruiter, and it seemed that every weekend was spent at a camp, or unofficial visit…off doing something softball related.
I was always a good student, graduating in the top percent of my class, and getting all A’s. High school was fairly easy and I breezed right through. As a young kid, I didnt really know what college would mean, and was pretty much just following the lead of my parents who sort of preformatted (with my consent) that I would be a college student/athlete.
I had a decent amount of offers, many from schools I had no interest in attending. When it was all said and done, I decided I wanted to stay in-state, and go to a college about an hour way. When that college gave me an offer as an outfielder, I was pretty much signed, sealed and delivered. I verballed in 11th grade, and kept on playing ball.
The thing is, I had just assumed that playing college ball would just be like playing high school ball. It was sort of understood from a young age, that this is what I was going to do. So of course I felt ready. Wasn’t this what I was playing for? After all if you aren’t going to play in college, why play – right? (Boy was I wrong)
On signing day, I took my seat at the desk with my teammates and coaches and family, and signed my NLI with excitement and smiles. My dad quickly had the picture framed and it sat in our living room with many of my other trophies, medals and plagues from over the years.
I graduated high school, and without hesitation moved on to the next phase.
The problem was that playing in college was nothing like playing in high school. I had decided young that I wanted to be a nurse, and knew what was ahead of me academically. I started summer workouts with the team, and as soon as fall semester came I relaxed into the routine of fall season, workouts, practice and academics.
By mid October, I was swamped. Overwhelmed. Not only did playing college mean that I had to attend 6 am conditioning and 5pm practices as well as weekend travel to play scrimmage games – plus all the team activities and fundraisers built into the schedule. College softball is not like college football where things are paid for by big attendance on game days. No, we had to work for our time on the field as well. But, I also had to maintain my grades.
By the end of October, I made the first adult decision of my life and knew that something had to give. And it was softball. Yes, I was a good student in high school. But I always had to work at it. I needed to get rest, and have plenty of time to study for tests. I had to do my homework. I wasn’t one of those students who could wing it by the seat of their pants and crunch out A after A. It didn’t come easily for me then, and it certainly didn’t come easily in college either.
I realized that the small amount of money that I was given to play college softball would take me much less time to earn with a part time job leaving me more time to study, than it did for me to be on the field. The majority of my scholarships came from academics anyways, and the school had plenty of on campus jobs for students looking to earn money for school. Softball money for an outfielder isn’t quite as grand as it may sound from your recruiters and travel ball coaches.
I also realized with a sudden abruptness, that although softball was fun, and I am passionate about it, and I love to play, that my adult life would not be made complete by playing softball.
I realized that what was going to be the measure of my success as an adult was my grades and academic performance. And in a competitive program like nursing, I had to be at the top. In other words, in the adult world that I was entering, softball was not going to pay the bills.
It was then I realized that adulting really sucks. LOL.
But I also knew that I had to make a choice. I had to be mature enough to know myself, what I could handle, and my style of learning. I had to respect the next phase of my life and utilize the same determination and skill it took me to get recruited to be the best student I could be. And this meant giving up something I loved and worked for. And while sad, I have chosen to see it as a beginning rather than an end.
I talked to my college coaches before the Thanksgiving break and they were understanding. compassionate and affirmed that my goal in college was to get an education. That no job was going to look at my softball stats, but they were going to look at my grades.
What I was most worried about was telling my dad. All those years of work that he put in along side me. What was he going to say? How much was this going to disappoint him? Some days I felt like he had more invested in my softball than I did.
I realized that through ALL the years of playing ball, the sound of playing college softball became familiar, comfortable music to my ears. But I was a kid, and what the hell did I know about college, or adulting, or making decisions, or taking responsibility for my future. I was just along for the ride. And what a ride it was.
But I still had to do what was right for me and my future. Even if it disappointed my dad (which it did and we had some harsh words over the ordeal).
Luckily, I have been able to return to school after the break and face finals week with plenty of time to study and prepare. I feel relaxed and confident in my career choice. Just as comfortable as I was in those cleats all those years. And I feel like for me, this was the right decision.
My advice to others. Leave the future open. We tend to seal things up a little quick, and think that all of our plans ensure success. But often, they don’t.
Dream big, but dream wide also. And remember that softball for grown women, is not that wide right now.
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