Competitive Drive: A Strength & A Weakness Written By Charity Butler
Much of Sweden is made up of large-framed people. There are, however, some who do not quite fit the typical Scandinavian mold. Sally is a young Swedish girl. In her blog, my American teammate likens Sally’s body type to a “Chinese gymnast in the Olympics, very slight, slender and adorable!”
Several weeks ago, we taught Sally’s softball P.E. class. Some of her classmates were very large Scandinavian boys. While teaching the offensive side of softball, we realized some of these boys could drive the ball pretty hard.
Typically during softball P.E. classes students beg to pitch. For some reason, though, in this particular class no one wanted to throw… except little Sally. When she volunteered, Nicole and I gave each other a nervous glance. Should we let this tiny little girl take the pitcher’s mound with GIANT boys coming up to the plate to hit?
She really wanted to give pitching a shot. So, against our better judgment, we gave her the nod.
Sally actually did an excellent job. She threw strikes and even made plays on balls hit up the middle. She had no fear. Go Sally, go!
In spite of her impressive performance, however, the following inning we insisted she move back to the field where she would be out of harm’s way. I took the mound and Nicole remained in the outfield to help direct the defense. In Nicole’s words, “All I wanted to do was catch a few balls in the outfield, maybe set an example of how to properly field a ball… Honestly, that’s all I wanted to do!”
Then, one of those big, strong guys hit a shot to Nicole in center field. The boys in the class had been a little, well… difficult. They were a source of frustration, at times, as they continued running the bases without regard for the rules.
Nicole says she, “saw an easy play at third base—a chance to throw one of these boys out!”
She “scooped up the groundball and threw a bullet to the kid playing third base. ‘Take that boy!! Who’s getting a homerun now?!’” She thought to herself in the heat of the moment.
Nicole has an absolute gun for an arm, by the way. She turned that ball loose.
Her illustration of the situation to follow is priceless. “That's when I [Nicole] saw it. Little Sally came out of nowhere and was caught in the line of fire. She was stuck, complete deer in the headlights… Sally you don't stand a chance! Duck… move… something!”
Nicole’s account continues, “Direct hit. The American ball player who came to Sweden to help promote and teach the sport of softball to young Swedish kids just drilled the smallest girl in the class—in the face. Not in the shin, not in the stomach….in the face! Nice Nicole, nice.”
After some ice and a little rest, I am sure Sally made a full recovery. We were using a soft, rag ball for the game. A real ball could have done some real damage.
Sally’s predicament is definitely not funny, but Nicole’s ultra-competitive outburst absolutely cracks me up. In fact, after class we were actually doubled over laughing at ourselves, gasping for breath.
Drive and determination have carried us both so far in the athletic arena. How can those same positive qualities give rise to a dilemma such as Sally’s? It seems impossible for the two of us to “just play for fun.” The competition and rivalry is fun.
How ironic that our greatest strengths can also become our greatest weaknesses, at times.
Thank goodness for rag balls, the ability to laugh at ourselves, and the never-ending pursuit of balance!
Charity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.
Charity, a Two-Time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, played Division I softball at the University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduation, she launched a professional softball career that has taken her across the U.S. and literally around the world.
Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.
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