Going to college far away from my sheltered life in cozy Colorado was a rude awaking..to put it lightly. I don’t think any amount of preparation or fore-warning could have prepared me for the brutal freshman year I had at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina.
I made the choice to go to FMU because of the scholarship offered, but I also thought the idea of going far away from my parents, and somewhere completely new and adventurous on the east coast was going. to. be. AWESOME!
Well, I was homesick daily, depressed, had a rough selection of roommates in an itty bitty dorm room, was more sore than I thought was even possible for a human being to be, and I was pushed every day beyond all limits I had previously known my body and mind were remotely capable of. I was also convinced that my coach’s sole purpose of existence was to make me want to quit. Come to find out that was as far as I could be from the actual truth, but dang was she tough. More on how she changed my life for the better later…
To this day, I still catch grief for gaining a freshman 50ish lbs, and can remember begging my mom to let me stay home and transfer to Metro State on the last day of my Christmas break so I wouldn’t have to return to what I thought was a living, breathing, place of pure hell.
Something internally pushed me to board that plane and go back to finish out my freshman year. I have no idea what it was, maybe a slight touch of insanity, but it all began to make sense once the spring season started and all the fall workouts, blood, sweat, and tears were literally paying off.
I had a relatively successful freshman season, earned my way to become the starting pitcher, was the team MVP, but more importantly I was more mature and eager to return for my sophomore year.
But this time, I knew I wanted to come back stronger, tougher, and better than ever.
It was 2008, ten years ago, that I had the best college season of my career.
I lifted amounts I can only dream about now, was running on the side to build endurance, was pushing myself daily to become one of the best pitchers in the conference, and ended up achieving numerous awards and recognitions.
I should point out that we had a hell of team that year too. A true dream team, with some of the best players I have ever seen grace a softball field. They made my job as a pitcher seem easy, and all 8 helped me make my pitching stats look damn good.
We ended up making it to the championship Regional game where we had to beat the University of North Georgia twice, due to falling into the losers bracket from a loss earlier in the tournament.
And well, we pulled it off.
I pitched all 14 consecutive innings, plus lord knows how many prior to that in the tournament and throughout the season. But those two games were by far my best memories as a player.
True team wins, where we barely snuck by, miraculously held them off inning after inning, and a ground out to our third baseman with a runner on two, we were up 2 to 1, ended the second game to give us a bid to the DII World Series. I can still visualize that last play in my mind like it happened yesterday.
Those Regional wins allowed our senior first baseman, Monica Wofford, and myself to be voted into being DII First Team All-Americans. The most prestigious award you can receive as a DII player.
We ended up playing pretty terribly at the World Series, but it didn’t matter. That year, and that team, gave me the memories and the friendships that will last me a life time.
And to think, I almost threw it all away by letting my fear of failure and discouragement of facing something new and difficult, stand in my way.
Now that it’s 2018, I have another opportunity to make a year with an 8 in it one of my very best. But this time, I get to coach girls who want to excel and reach their goals just as I did. How awesome, and what an honor!