Author: Brittany Woods
I am number 27. I am a second baseman. I am the tying run on second. I am a softball player. I played this sport for 16 years and it was all I had ever known. But, like many other athletes, I struggled with the idea of giving up my life as an athlete. Who would I be without the cleats?
I was dedicated and determined as I chased the dream of playing softball as a college athlete. I had an instructor for each aspect of the game; batting, pitching, fielding, conditioning, and many more. My parents would even take me to the field for extra practices after my high school practices. Nothing would or could stand in the way of my dream! Through hard work and perseverance, I made it, I was a college softball player!
But… Who am I without this sport?
Looking back as athlete me, I find myself stumbling over the word “quit”. It was never really in my vocabulary. I am not someone that just gives up on something they have worked so hard to achieve. However, life has a funny way of changing course.
One injury. Not just any injury. A career ending injury. I tore my shoulder and now I was faced again with this question. Who am I without softball?
The first few weeks after my injury were unbearable. I struggled to fit into the crowd of the general population that wasn’t consumed by athletics. I missed the weight room. I missed the dirt. I missed the sprints. Most of all, I missed my team. I was faced with the task of finding a new passion. One that didn’t involve hitting practices and fielding days. I got knocked into a new reality. I knew that everyone’s sport career comes to an end. But for me, it was an abrupt end. One I couldn’t control. And that made it even more difficult to answer the question, “Who am I?”
I am more than just the number on the back of a jersey.
I am an advice giver.
I am more than just a former second baseman.
I am someone’s role model.
I am more than the tying run on second.
I am a teacher.
I now know who I am. I am a coach. I will be there on the first day of a girl’s dream to play college softball and I will be there on the last day, when they too wonder who they are without this sport. Then, when they look at me with tears in their eyes, I will tell them. You are more than just a softball player. You hold more value in your future career than the yellow ball that lies in your hand. The knowledge you learn in school will carry you through a career far more promising than your cleats will, and you are more than just a number on the back of a jersey. You are you and the bold words that define you.