Who knew that my sport would provide me with more opportunities and experiences than I would have ever imagined an ocean away from home?
Softball has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve played softball since I was about 8-years-old. I started getting serious about it and playing competitively at 11 or 12, and I began playing on a college showcase team when I was around 14. For my college decision, I decided to verbally commit to Arcadia University, where I’m currently a junior pitcher and infielder.
This past summer, I had hip surgery to fix a condition in my hip called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), as well as fix the torn labrum in my hip. The recovery was (and still is) one of the hardest things I’ve been through so far, with my summer being dominated by physical therapy and constantly working to get back to where I was before. Since I knew I was going abroad for this semester, I needed to find a place to practice in London.
During the summer, I reached out and got in touch with some coaches over here, who pointed me in the right direction. After corresponding all summer, I packed up my softball gear and headed to London. I tried out for the practice squad a few weeks after I arrived and made it.
Throughout the entire semester, I’ve had the opportunity to practice with the High Performance Academy (HPA), a softball training squad run by Baseball Softball UK. Some of the athletes I’ve been practicing with have represented Great Britain on the international stage, and I can’t even describe how amazing this experience has been. I’ve learned new ways of thinking about the game, I’ve gone out of my comfort zone to try new things, and most importantly, I’ve gotten a fresh perspective on the game.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, playing a college sport can be hard. Hours of lifts, conditioning, study hall, practices, games, and add into that studying, and maybe even working a job; it can get pretty crazy. Sometimes I take the fact that I have the opportunity to represent my school by playing the sport I love for granted. Sometimes I get tired of the sport because I rarely get time away from it, and sometimes I need a break.
This summer forced me to have that break as I rehabbed my hip, and I got to step away from the game and really think about my why. Why did I fall in love with the game? Why did I choose to play in college? Why did I put myself through some of the things I have for this game?
Practicing here has shown me that the sport of softball provides a community like no other. I’ll forever be grateful for the memories I’ve made through softball here and for the people I’ve met. Being a part of the softball community here has also shown me that it’s okay to have fun. I’m an extremely competitive person, and I hate to lose. I’m a perfectionist in training, and I hate not being on or being beaten. Sometimes it gets to the point where I put so much pressure on myself that I don’t have fun playing the game anymore.
I don’t think that there was one practice that went by while I’ve been here that I haven’t cracked up laughing or haven’t smiled ear to ear. The atmosphere here has reminded me that I can still work hard and that I can still have fun at the same time. My coaches here have reminded me that sometimes I need to take a step back and take a breath.
As I have around two weeks left in London and four practices left for HPA, I can’t help but be so thankful for the incredible experience I’ve had here through softball and for the amazing opportunities that have come my way because of this experience. I’ve been invited to play with the Great Britain U22 Select team (as I’m not a British Passport holder or citizen, but am now in the pool of athletes they can draw on for invitational tournaments) this summer on two occasions: London in June, and Canada in July.
So to London and Great Britain, thank you for letting me see you in such a unique light through my sport. It makes the bitter farewell in two weeks a little easier knowing I’ll be back in June. I can’t wait to be back and to make more memories playing a game I love in a place I’ve learned to love.