I picked up my first softball when I was 3 years old... then tried to eat it. Big surprise right? From playing catch with dad in the front yard, to North Venice Little League, to multiple travel ball teams, and finally New Mexico State softball, I have had so many amazing coaches and have learned so many life lessons that I thought I'd share the impact it as had on my life. Here are my most important lessons from sports:
1. Time Management
Six hour practices, 4 am weights, 5 am wake up calls on game day, conditioning, ice baths, study hall hours, homework, tests, community service...the list goes on. Then on top of that, get some sleep. You learned how to make time for the most important things. You had to make the most out of every spare moment you had. It took a lot of focus to get into a Division 1 college and then once you got there, your time management had to get even better. Any spare time was used to gain more skills and improve your chances of playing or keeping your spot.
If taken seriously, sports would consume you. But, playing was a privilege. You had to balance keeping good grades and playing well. One without the other would leave you in the dust.
I can't tell you how many times I didn't feel like going to practice. We would run hills, run drills in the burning sun, sometimes not the most fun. Yet, we showed up. You learned every drill, and hustled to be a better athlete. You learned to push hard even when you didn't feel like it. There would always be someone trying to take your spot on the field. You could always become a better player. You had to challenge your limits and put in the extra work. You had to stay motivated for not only you, but your teammates. You had to win.
Leadership meant taking responsibility for your duties and the performance of your team. Showing up early, being the example for the younger players, staying poised during times of chaos, inspiring your teammates. Going the extra mile.
Stepping on the field in front of your parents, siblings, and fans was intimidating. You really had no option but to play, hiding was not an option. You had to perform and when you did, you felt like you were on top of the world. You trusted your abilities. Confidence came from all those extra hours you put in when no one was watching. So you knew you could always do more that you thought was possible. Pushing beyond your limits and succeeding.
5. Never Give Up
It takes so much work to be good at something. In season or off season you were working to get better. When participating in a sport, you have to try, try and try again. You can’t just give up because you failed the first time. You dig in, and you endure. Eventually, you succeed.
You lost some games, but you learned how to turn those failures into lessons. Not every day was your best day, but you acknowledged your strengths and figured out ways to improve your weaknesses. You focused on what you were going to improve and kept at it. Tomorrow was a new day.
You didn't get along with everyone on your team. Sports taught you how to work with people you didn't necessarily enjoy being around. In the end, you needed each other to win. You learned each players' strengths and weaknesses and how to work together for the common goal of winning.
Playing softball was an amazing journey that not everyone is fit for, but it left me with important lessons that have carried into my adult life. I've had teams that were like a family to me, amazing memories, metals, jerseys, scars, friendships and lessons that will last a lifetime.