Help! I’m a benchwarmer Written By Renee Ferguson
The number one complaint on any softball team is playing time. Some people get too much of it and other doesn’t get enough of it. There are a lot of thoughts and feelings that have been conveyed to me over the years when ones child is sitting the bench and none of them are ever good. Never do the conversations focus on the opportunity that sitting the bench creates for the child in question. What they do focus on is the unfairness involved in deciding who sits the bench and who doesn’t, maybe it’s because the coach’s daughter is on the team and has preferred playing time over everyone else or perhaps it’s that the coach plays favorites and your daughter isn’t one of them. Whatever the conversation may be its never (in my opinion) what it should be, so today I am going to give you my views on being a bench warmer and how to make the best out of a bad situation.
Let me start this off by saying the following, for about 4 years I was an every other game bench warmer. Specifically, I pitched and sat pitched and sat until about my junior year of high school. This drove my dad nuts especially when it came to summer ball team. Every year after the close of the season he would encourage me to go try out for another team where he felt that I would be given a “fair shake”, and every year my answer was always the same, “No!”.
The team I played on was a great team for the first couple of years. We had a ton of talent and we all worked well together and our win/loss record proved it. As the seasons wore on we stagnated and developed egos after those first few successful seasons. As the egos grew, the team atmosphere crumbled. On top of that, you add boys to the mix and good Lord we were a mess- the “team” was gone and we were left with individuals. And that type of atmosphere never breeds success it breeds contention, but I looked at things differently. I saw the opportunity of being a bench warmer (an opportunity I had been given because I was labeled a one trick pony) as underdog status on the field. There was no question I could pitch, ask anyone who knew me and that is what they would tell you about me. I was Renee the pitcher, but I didn’t just want to be a pitcher, I wanted to be a player who could pitch in when and where needed and help my team succeed. I wanted to make an impact even when I wasn’t on the mound.
So while I could have taken the role of benchwarmer as a negative, I looked at it as a way to prove that I deserved to play, not only to myself but to my coaches. It was a role I had to figure out how to embrace so that I was prepared and able to perform when I was called upon by my coaches to “bail” my team out when we were in trouble. Honestly the way that I did this was by looking at my situation as an opportunity to be a “hero” on the field and make a huge impact whenever I was needed. And if I am being honest what type of pitcher doesn’t like to be a “hero”? I like the ball in my hand, I like the pressure and honestly, I performed better under pressure than I did if we were up by 5 or 10 runs because I knew I had to.
To all my fellow benchwarmers out there, embrace your role; be leaders in the dugout, ensure your left or right fielder is completely warm before that next inning, keep your throwing arm bat and legs warm during the game without your coaches telling you to. Your actions speak louder than your words, you can complain about how much not playing bothers you but if you are not proactively showing your coach that you are willing to work harder than any other player on that team your coach will never believe you. You can’t let the actions of your coach or the excuses you or your parents may create regarding the actions of your coach ever be a reason to stop you from trying. In life you will encounter people who just flat out don’t believe in you, and you will always have 2 choices, roll over and prove them right or stand up and prove to them that they have no idea what you are capable of. You have those two choices in front of you every day of your life and how you choose to respond today will determine how you respond to similar adverse situations in the future.
Some may say it doesn’t matter its only softball, so what if they don’t believe in me. They are stupid, it’s their loss but in reality you are teaching yourself how you will react when your boss comes to you 20 years from now and tells you, you didn’t get the promotion because they just don’t think your were right for the job. Show your coaches (aka bosses) that you have a great attitude and will bust your butt to get into the game and you WILL be ready when and if they need you. At the end of the day, if that time never comes (hey, some coaches are hard headed) you will always be able to walk away with a clear conscience knowing that you did your very best to prove your worth not only to your coach or teammates but also to yourself, and that my friend is worth more than its weight in gold.
Renee Ferguson Renee has over 30 years of combined playing and coaching experience at the select and college levels. After a 3 year stint as Division I, Morgan State University’s pitching coach; Renee was appointed the Head Women’s softball Coaching position at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. Where she lead the Pioneer Softball team to an 8th place finish, in the NJCAA DIII Nationals in Rochester MN after taking the helm only weeks before the 2013 season started. Renee’s goal is to instill the love and passion that she has for the game, into each and every one of her players and students. Keep up with Renee Ferguson by visiting her site at DirtInTheSkirtSports.com.Join Renee On: Facebook.
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