It’s more than just a sport to me…

Currently my life revolves around softball. Three nights a week practice for my unlicensed Hailey and every weekend tournaments. I say unlicensed because this means where she goes…. I go. And we go and go and go… Am I crabby? Hell no!

Every weekend of my adult (up for argument on that word) life I’m able to flashback to the best times in my life.

I’m at a tournament now. In scenic Naperville, IL. And as a momma who played for 13 years – every time I go to one of my girl’s games the result is the same: nostalgia.

There’s a smell associated. A feeling. A specific air. Every game I flashback to my glory days.

Foul ball I got to hang onto for a few mins after just a couple pitches

As I sit here I have a foul ball hit my way after just a few pitches of the game. Picking it up and touching a new ball immediately takes me back to pitching with a slight closing of the eyes and inhale. Walking out to the mound with adrenaline and jitters and having that ball placed in my hand. It was a new start. A new game. A brand new ball on a clean slate and I was in charge.

Those memories are heaven on Earth to me now that my Dad is gone. He coached me and my team for years and if we weren’t playing games we were out in the yard practicing. It was our bond. Our shared passion. And it became a part of me. In my bones. My heart. My soul.

Softball is so much more than a sport to me. It’s teamwork. Individual dedication. Competition. Family. An escape. I remember spending hours making softball mix tapes… and making lifetime friendships… and the concession stand (and the fun dips!!!!) and learning to be a part of something bigger than me. How to compete. How to win. How to lose. How to take criticism. How to cheer on someone I didn’t like much, but the fact that we were on the same side made us compatible..

Dad and I circa 1983

As I watch my girl take the mound herself I’m blown away. Somehow someone riddled with anxiety can step out and let the other life they lead fall away and have all eyes on them and just play ball. It’s breathtaking and emotional to watch from my seat.

I watch this game and feel this sport with such a respect and admiration that can likely only happen from someone who has been in that position in their own life. Who knows the smell of the chalk that lines the bases. Who sees green grass and thinks of the outfield and the dew on their cleats on an early morning game. Who knows how it feels to make footprints on a newly raked field. Those nerves and adrenaline stepping into the batter’s box. And when it’s warm enough to go outside in the spring we don’t say “it’s spring!” Dad and I text “it smells like softball outside!!!”

I miss it and am so grateful for the experiences I was blessed with. I know this is likely Hailey’s last year playing and will be the end of an era for me, which is tough in so many ways.

So I trek all over Northern Illinois with my girl. And we softball and I currently have butterflies in my tummy for her 3:30 game today. Partially because, ya know, I ALSO have wicked anxiety, but also because I remember! I remember how it felt to be in her shoes.

So as for me: for these last few weeks of summer softball, I’ll happily be at the field. ❤️🥎

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