I spent nine years chasing the game I loved. I played every weekend, holiday and summer until I was 18 years old. I collected memories and trophies and battle scars. And then, in one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, I walked away. I felt sure that it was best for me and most days, I believe I was right. I was watching my dad’s team play this weekend (he coaches high school softball) and a parent asked me “What would tell these girls if you knew they’d listen?” And this is what I would say:
One day you will walk off the field for the last time. One day you will untie your cleats forever. One day you will put your glove in your bag and there it will stay for months at a time. One day your tan lines will fade. You’ll forget the feeling of seams beneath your fingers. You’ll struggle to remember the way it felt to hit the perfect pitch. You’ll see your teammates once or twice a year instead of every single day. You won’t slide into second. You won’t round first. One day you’ll be on the other side the fence.
One day this won’t be your life anymore. And when it’s not, you won’t remember the things that you’d think. You’ll have no idea how many times you struck out. You won’t know how many errors you made. You won’t be impressed with how many home runs you hit. You won’t care about your batting average or ERA. For the most part, you won’t remember wins and losses at all.
After your last inning has come and gone, you’re going to remember the times when you wanted to quit— but didn’t. You’re going to remember the teammates (and families) you loved along the way. You’re going to remember playing in the freezing cold, driving rain, and unbearable heat. You’re going to remember the hotel bonding and the eight hour road trips. You’re going to remember the early practices and late games. You’re going to remember the coaches that never gave up on you. But most of all, you’re going to remember the sheer happiness that came only from being between two chalk lines. You’re going to remember the moments you did more than you ever believed you could. You’re going to remember the times you used every bit of talent God gave you.
One day this won’t be your life anymore. So for today, run as fast as your feet will take you. Whether it’s a pop up to the pitcher or it bounces off the fence in left field. For today, swing as hard as you can. Commit to every pitch and give it everything you have. For today, make every play like it’s the last chance you’ll ever get. For today, play because you want to. Play because you need to. Play because the little girl you used to be fell in love with this game all those years ago.
For today, don’t stop until the last pitch is thrown. Play with every piece of your heart and leave it all on the field. One day, this won’t be your life anymore. When that day comes, make sure you wouldn’t change a thing.