If you are like me, you grew up at ball diamonds. Some of my earliest memories are times spent at ball fields during the summer. Softball is a part of my genetics. “Ball” as it was referred to in my family, was the focus of all we did. Ball kept us occupied and engaged.
It was the early 80s and travel ball teams really didn’t exist except in some rare cases. I happened to be blessed to have been on one of those teams. We traveled around our state playing in different tournaments. We even played our national tournament (AAU/USA Jr. Olympic) at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, IN. The one thing I remember the most about travel ball was the time spent with my family and friends. This was a time that all differences was put to the side and we simply enjoyed each other.
We as a community have a way of forgetting that competition softball is a journey. We look at it as a means to an end. Our daughters play at high levels in the quest to earn a softball scholarship. They are pushed to their limits to be sitting at the table on “signing day”. Sometimes the most important aspect of this quest is lost, the journey. We forget that each of these athletes are developing on their level and that they will remember the journey more than the accomplishments. The majority of these athletes have an internal drive and passion for the game of softball. They realize when they play well and they realize when they need additional practice. Most will remember and they realize when they need additional practice. Most will remember the moments they look over and see you cheering them on.
Over and over I have heard college and adult athletes talk about the time spent with parents. I heard Jennie Finch speak about how her dad still caught her to that day. How Monica Abbott’s mom caught her for 1 hour every day. I did not hear them speak about big games won. I did not hear them speak how great it was to be on the Olympics teams. They unanimously referenced the journey. It caught my attention, as they spoke, how their families were their biggest supporters, how their parents are still Walking Beside them daily.
The journey is where the passion begins. The journey is where the memories begin. The journey is where the accomplishments are anchored. The journey becomes the motivator. The Journey is the important part of the quest. The wins and losses are not the important part of softball careers, the journey is. My youthful journey has resulted in my love of softball. It has resulted in my ability to give back to the game. It has started to make a difference in young athletes lives.
As we go forward in this crazy softball world, I ask you to remember that you and your daughters are on a journey together. Jeremy McDowell, from Midwest Sports Productions gave his daughter one of the best compliments, I have ever heard a parent give, he simply said “I enjoy watching you play ”
My question, do you ENJOY watching your child play? I encourage you to ENJOY the journey because it is gone before you know it.