If you haven’t seen the film, The Greatest Showman, I highly suggest you do so. Musicals by no means are my thing, but I can still remember going to the circus as a kid, so naturally a movie about the guy who started it all, put it on my radar of must sees. Come to find out, I really enjoyed it and found that it had several uplifting, and inspiring life lessons and parallels to modern day trials and tribulations.
So while I was running and watching the movie the other day, I was doing my typical, best, most deep thinking, and I started to relate the underlying messages in the movie to, well...softball.
Hear me out here;
Comfort. The Enemy of Progress.
Sometimes we have to do the drills, the workouts, the (dare I say it??) cardio, when we know it makes us feel uncomfortable or challenged.
Comfort provides a sometimes dangerous level of complacency, and being complacent in relations to a sport, is a recipe for defeat. Trust the process, trust the plan. Get out of your comfort zone and rise to the challenges.
Progress is bound to follow suit.
Nobody is Going to Make Things Happen For You, Only You Can Do That.
At some point in your career, your mom or dad won’t be the ones responsible for telling you that you have a lesson at such and such time, they’re not going to be the ones responsible to get you to practice on time, and eventually they’re not going to be pushing you to practice on the side. This separation often happens around the later teenage years, when parents get tired of fighting the constant pulls of friends, boyfriends, other sports, school commitments, and forgive me, but the sheer laziness that ensues when you’re a teen.
Your parents realize that not only is the battle not worth your happiness, but that the battle isn’t theirs to fight anymore. They’re not giving up on you, they’re just simply putting the ball back into your court. You, have to decide if softball means that much to you to commit to and earn the next levels that a softball career has to offer.
That means your summers are being spent traveling and practically living on the field, not being able to remember what a normal weekend feels like, showing up to prom with traces of eye black still on your face, and having permanently terrible tan lines. All in an effort to make your HS varsity team, to play college ball, or to just play on the club team you’ve had your sights set on.
You are the one that has to make those things happen, no one else, parents included. They’re just there to join you for the ride, and pray there’s a scholarship involved in your choices.
But stay hungry. It’s easy to feel on top of the world when your team is winning, to start to feel content and like no one is going to be able to accomplish what you have.
But someone, somewhere is always working harder than you, and they will catch up to you.
Celebrate the small victories, but recognize where some work still needs to get done and when you need to pull your head out of the clouds and come back down to the grind.
Never Forget Where You Came From, and Who Got You There.
Your parents do so much for you all in an effort to see you succeed, to see you excel, to see you, happy. Oh to just know the amount of sleep lost, the sunburns received, the amount of energy physically and emotionally spent thinking about ways to help you get better. The money, the miles, the frustrations, the memories, the everything.
They give up a lot for you, so go easy on them.
Know their nagging, their critiquing, their constant analysis, or even their embarrassing cheering, is all coming from a good place. They want all good things for you, the best, and someday you will understand and see it for yourself.
This quote says it perfectly:
Treat Those Who Are Different, With Respect and Equality
Teams involve so many different family dynamics, backgrounds, upbringings, and beliefs. Some parents are super involved, some you may never see. Some parents played themselves, while some parents are being thrown into the athletic arena for the first time in their lives. Some girls started to play because their parents signed them up and they didn’t have a choice, some knew at a very young age they wanted to follow suit after a sibling and just needed a glove small enough to fit their hand.
Start to recognize and get to know each and every one of your teammates, no matter if she seems different, or doesn’t seem like someone you would choose to be friends with. Softball is something you all have in common, but you would be amazed what else your teammates are involved in. Ask. Get to know them, it will make your team stronger, better.
Never Give Up, Even Under the Worst Circumstances
Finish what you start. I can think of very few reasons quitting mid season is justifiable. Getting ample playing time is not one of them. After a rough season, learn what to look for in future coaches and teams, and move on, move forward. Recognize the work you need to put in to outplay those who were playing over you.
If an injury has put a halt on your career, work the muscles you can while healing and come up with a plan to get stronger, better, faster when you are able bodied.
If you’re on team that can’t win a game even against a younger team during Saturday pool play, view it and start treating it as an opportunity to gain leadership skills. Be someone your teammates can lean on and look up to even during tough times by not only continuing to play and practice hard, but by picking them up despite the errors.
Never Lose Sight of Your Dreams
What are your dreams? Start setting and thinking about goals now so that your dreams can start to develop into reality. That goes for every aspect of your life, not just the dreams of hitting a home run, pitching a no-no, playing DI college ball, or being on the Olympic team someday.
Maybe your dreams revolve around a certain profession, to have a family of your own someday, to travel, to graduate with honors, to make your parents proud of you. Whatever it is, keep your sights set on those goals, and don’t ever let someone tell you you’re not good enough to achieve your dreams.
“They say it all sounds crazy,
They can say I’ve lost my mind
I don’t care so call me crazy
We can live in a world that we design.
...a million dreams are keeping me awake.”
Remember who you are trying to impress
It’s hard not to want to show mom and dad how hard you’ve been working at practice by going up to bat thinking you’re going to hit just like you did at practice. Or to show that friend on the opposing team how good your change up has been looking lately since you overheard her talking smack. Or to want to impress that coach who passed on you at his tryouts just a couple of months prior.
Whatever the situation when you are trying to impress for anyone but yourself, it’s easy to get outside of your being, and to try too dang hard. Stay within yourself and your means, play because you want to, practice because you know it will make you better, and expect great things from yourself because you’ve put in the work. Playing to impress often leads to disappointment not only because you put extra pressure on yourself to preform, but because you’re probably not going to get the reaction you were hoping to get from that player, coach, or even parent.
Their reaction doesn’t matter in the grand scheme, use them as motivation, not as your finish line.
"When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me Look out 'cause here I come And I'm marching on to the beat I drum I'm not scared to be seen I make no apologies, this is me."