My European Softball Adventures

My European softball adventures

My European softball adventures Written By Charity Butler

My European softball adventures provided a rather surreal opportunity for me. When I arrived in country, the Saints number one pitcher was out with shoulder trouble. I was unaware of this “minor issue” until I arrived in Sweden.

On my first day in Sweden my teammate, Ann-Sophie, asked me about pitching. I thought she was joking. Later that day at my first practice, they asked me to throw a short bull-pen.

The team only had one Swedish pitcher for the time being, Priya Molen. The other American player, Nicole Denes, is a pitcher as well. She is a standout player from the University of Oklahoma. Nicole, however, would not be arriving in Sweden for several weeks.

All of a sudden I was the starting pitcher for the first game the following day! Was I dreaming? Was this just the jetlag? What?!

Although I have taught young pitchers a good bit, I have not pitched in an actual game in over nine years. This could get interesting.

My mind began to race, “Would I be able to throw strikes? Would my pitches break?” These thoughts were quickly thrust aside by the ensuing excitement and adrenaline.

Anyway, I did start the next day. I pitched a complete game, giving up only one hit, one walk and one run. We won the game 11-1. What a day!

For the first several weeks of the season, Priya and I made up the two woman pitching staff. One of us threw, and the other played infield. It worked well.

The competitive drive in me was definitely an asset as I returned to the pitching rubber. However, I tend to be quite the perfectionist. As a result, I have always struggled with failure.

In our fourth series, not only did my team lose, but I took the loss on the mound as the starting pitcher. We fell to 7 and 1 overall. I let my team down with a bad outing. What a disappointment.

Things had been going almost unbelievably well. It seemed too easy.

I could whine and complain about umpires, playing conditions, errors, or any other excuses. When it comes down to it, I did not do my job. Period.

Ouch! That is tough to swallow. What a frustrating and discouraging thought.

I have come to a conclusion, though. When we face failure, we have two options.

1. We can “roll over,” and throw a pity party complete with sulking and self focus. This is usually followed by giving up, giving in… and quitting. Sounds like a real pleasure, right?

2. What is the second option? Learn from mistakes, and get better as a result. Initially, this is not the most comfortable path to choose.

Many times even when we do choose the second option, we will still feel like rolling over.
Honestly, the morning after the loss I was a bit dejected. A couple of timely e-mails from hitting students at home, some prayer and an attitude adjustment were just what I needed.

I was ready to face the challenge head-on. I worked my tail off that day: lifting, conditioning, hitting, taking ground balls, and of course pitching.

The result: my next start put another “W” in the win column for the Saints! We advanced to 9 and 1. I was relaxed, focused and confident. Even after giving up a hit or two, I was resolute. Inning after inning, pitch after pitch, I went right at every hitter.

My last outing on the mound was more than a stat on paper. It was an internal victory. I was able to press forward with a renewed motivation and strength.

Every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.

So, do you want to hear the moral of the story?

When you face failure, which we all will do, take a second to remember the choice is up to YOU. You may not feel persistent, and your strengths may be few. BUT always, always, always choose option #2.

Softball Junk

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Charity ButlerCharity 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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