There’s a common misconception that most of us athletes that are successful, on the national team, playing professional were always good. There are younger athletes and parents alike that often say “well you were always good” or something similar. While I can’t speak for everyone one of us, I can say that was not always the case for me.
When I was 11, I had started pitching, but wouldn’t classify myself as a pitcher. Therefore, being left-handed I was a first baseman and an outfielder. I played Little League, and my coach had nominated me to try out for the All-Star team. I had been on the All Star team the season before, so I was excited to try out again. When tryouts began they informed us there were 15 spots and 16 people were trying out. Do the math, only 1 person wasn’t going to make the squad. The parents wondered if they would just add an extra alternate spot and let everyone make it. Now a days, I feel like that would be their solution. However, I did not grow up in what I deem the participation/Everyone Wins era.
Dad and I left the field, and I thought I performed well. My coach had been there, and of course shared his sentiments of being proud. I was happy and hoping I’d get another chance to wear the green jersey and another All Star hat. A few hours later, my dad got a phone call. It was my coach. I waited patiently to hear what the news was. However, the news wasn’t good. My dad hung up the phone and informed me I was the one player they cut that year. I am sure I shed some tears, maybe even ran to my room in disappointment, but I remember later talking to my dad and starting the conversation with “well this really sucks.”
At the time, my dad was contemplating moving me to travel ball. My interest in softball and pitching had grown, and he thought I could learn and develop better in that environment. We talked it over. He explained I would most likely sit the bench for a while, and I was ok with that. I played left field when they told me to. I would get chances to pitch when we were down by too much or up by enough. I took my opportunities with a smile on my face and a passion for my position. The same Little League that cut me ended up making their own travel team, and they’d pass my team and snicker about me sitting the bench.
Eventually I earned time as a starter when games mattered, and I even came in relief of our #1 and got us out of jams. I can look back now and see that I earned that.
Was I always good? No way. I was short, skinny, uncoordinated and awkward. BUT… I loved what I did. I worked hard to be better for the sake of wanting to be better, not for a college scholarship or anything external. My work ethic took over. I worked because I saw opportunity. I worked because my coaches helped me develop. I didn’t run from Little League because they had cut me. In fact, I played the fall season I had already signed up for, then left.
Too often I see athletes jump teams because they aren’t playing. They leave to find a place where they are the best. You don’t have to be the best every step of the way. You just have to be willing to work hard while you bide your time. When the time comes, you have to accept your opportunity and make the most of it.
We all fail. We all lose. Most of us get cut. How you work after these events is what creates the athletes that you see on the sports biggest stages.
| Cat Osterman’s accomplished career as a softball pitcher precedes her, starting with a record-breaking 4 years at the University of Texas and continuing with her impressive Olympic achievements and professional softball endeavors. In fact, she was the first pitcher to register over 2,000 NCAA strikeouts.
After taking home the gold at the 2004 Olympic games and enjoying years of success playing with the USA Softball Women's National team, Cat began her professional career in 2007 with National Pro Fastpitch. She is an inspiration to countless young softball players all over the world. Visit her website at www.CatOsterman.com
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