Game Changer At the age of 3, I picked up this yellow ball and threw it back to my dad. On this day, I never imagined that, that very ball would soon become my family, my life, and my happiness. Soon softball would become the only thing that never changed for me. Friends have come and gone but I knew that one thing would always be there. I could always count on the game to change my mood to something better. Traveling, making friends, and playing the game I loved would soon take over my weekends and soon became something I would play every day for over 5 years.
Every little kids dreams about making it to the big leagues or playing in college. I too had those aspirations. Naturally, I was handed the opportunity to play college softball here at Mayville State. I took it of course. However, my first month of college was a whirlwind. My life had changed, I no longer had my mom to hold my hand and give me a pep talk after a bad day, or my dad to tell me to get better. My head was no longer in the right place. I was put on a team with people who were better than me for the first time in my life. I no longer was looked as one of the best on the field and that was hard on me.
The day I chose to quit the one thing that was always there for me is and will forever be one of the worst days of my life. The day my head made a choice that my heart will never agree with, the day I gave up softball. On a gloomy September day, I chose to change my life forever. I couldn’t even build up the courage to quit face to face. Naturally, in today’s society texting becomes the new face to face conversation. I can’t even remember what I said but I am 98% sure it was a bunch of poor excuses that added up to me saying “I can’t partake in this team anymore. “I don’t want this for my life anymore” and “I lost the love. ”
After 2 months of sitting around in my dorm, picturing my future without the only thing that was constant for so long. The more I think about it, how can you lose love for something that has been there for you when nothing else was there? I didn’t. I waited 3 days for coach to text me. On day 3, I received a text that stated “turn in your gear to the locker room. ” Not a single word has been exchanged between me and her since. My parents have been my support system my entire life.
Driving me to practice over an hour away sometimes, paying the thousands of dollars to play on the top travel teams in the area, tournaments on tournaments. I never could build up enough strength to tell them that I let them down. I chose not to, wanted to keep it a secret from them as long as possibly could. I didn’t even get the opportunity to tell them. My brother Jon actually told them at Thanksgiving dinner. My dad did not speak more than 5 words to me for the following month. I was basically an outcast to my own family. Going through the motions just to make it by. They would often ask why I would do that to myself.
I could not tell them the real reason. I came to accept the real reason why I quit shortly after, I quit because a boy. I grew up preaching to everyone that I would never allow a boy to change who I was or what I was all about, but yet I did; and I suffer from it every day. I wanted nothing more than to be happy with this boy so much that the day he told me to quit and come back home, I didn’t think twice about it at the time. “Come home, and we will actually work out. ” I was a naive little girl who just wanted to be loved so much I’d give up the 1 thing that loved me more than anything in the world, softball.
Coming from a small community of nearly 2,000, I had to live up to some serious expectations as a ball player. Since grade 10, I was answering questions about my future. “What team are you playing for this summer? ” “Any colleges want you yet? There has to be a lot. ” Naturally, I thought when I got to college the hype of my career would go away being I go to university 5 hours away; I was wrong. I dreaded going home and seeing the regulars at the cafe asking me how I was doing, and if I was hitting homeruns at school.
Strength in numbers is what I went by for the first 4 months being home, I knew I went out with my friends I was less likely to have to answer questions about my game, or my lack of game. The day I told Grandpa Jack that my career ended was more heart ranching for him than me. Grandpa Jack was the sports reporter for the local newspaper who wrote an article about me shortly after graduation glorifying me in a way that was just a wee bit unnecessary but he felt like he was part of my family, he claimed I was worth every word he said.
The man sat me down at a corner booth and told me he wasn’t mad at my choice to drop the game, he was just disappointed that I would let myself down like that. As was I at this point in life. The smell of a fresh cut grass on the field and the sound of metal cleats stomping on the concrete was something that escaped my mind over the winter months. I began to fool myself that perhaps I did not need softball anymore. Those ideas quickly came to a halt when I built up enough nerve to attend the first home of the season last fall.
I drove past the field about 3 times before I finally reached the point when I said to myself “Jodi it’s time to live with the life you dealt yourself. ” I got out of the car and went and watched my friends play the game that we all loved. Watching someone make a great play and cheering for them honestly hurt my heart. It’s tough being in the situation of watching one of your best friends hit the game winning single, and all I could think about was that should be me.
I attended nearly every home game that season, game after game I would go up to my friends and congratulate them on playing their heart out, because honestly that’s all I wanted to do. After talking with my friends briefly I would then return to my car and cry about how much I let myself down. It has been over a year since I last wore metal cleats and long socks that made my calves look larger than life. However, that’s all about to change in the next couple of months. It took me over a year to realize that I truly wasn’t happy anymore. Luckily, I was recently was blessed with a new opportunity to expand my softball career.
The day I took my first college visit as an ex elite softball player was something I never would have panned myself, and to be completely honest; I had no idea how to plan for it. How would I explain to this coach why I was no longer a player here at Mayville? What if I don’t even have the skills | once was so good at? Fortunately, I still had it. I might have left the game for a short while but the game never left me. September 14, 2014. That date will forever be engraved in my memory, the day my head made a choice that my heart will never be okay with.
Even though, I was offered a different opportunity to play softball again, my mind will forever be thinking of what ifs. I realized that, those who make rush decisions often have the most regrets. “Life is short” is a cliche saying but I believe it is most certainly true. I was given this life and the ability to be an athlete, many people don’t have that option; I need to make the best out of the cards I was dealt in the tricky game of life. Quitting the softball team will forever be a part of me, but I chose to no longer allow it to control me.