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The Sun Always Rises

I never wanted to sit down and write this. I didn’t ever want to be done playing this sport, being a part of a team, having a chance to experience the unspeakable joy of sharing success with my teammates. When I decided to play college softball, I had no idea what was going to happen. I sort of had the odds set against me. I was just a recruited walk-on. Strike one. And a new staff was hired who didn’t recruit me. Strike two. However, I’ve never minded hitting with two strikes. Battle mode is my default and I like to make things interesting no matter the circumstance.

I knew that playing college softball was going to transform me. I had dreams of playing, but not the type you might imagine. Not the dreams of glamor and prestige most people think of when they imagine college athletics, but of relationships and the journey I would be taking. I didn’t have goals for my batting average or amount of home runs I would hit, but for the amount of impact I could have on a team. Not everything in life is quantifiable. The way you treat people, the time you give, and optimism in the face of struggle can’t be measured.

I’d love to say that playing these four years has lived up to all the expectations I had when I was a senior in high school, but sometimes things are different than you imagine. There were things that I didn’t expect to be the way they were, unforeseen challenges that changed year to year. However, the expectations of meeting lifelong friends and seeing tremendous growth in myself have been met and exceeded. My most important goal was to leave the program better than I found it, and while it may not have shown up on paper during my four years, I hope it has through my relationships with my teammates.

There are things I did over these four years that I am extremely proud of. I went from a walk-on freshman to a starting catcher my senior year. I fought for every ounce of success I ever had and nothing came easy. Many times my greatest inner turmoil was caused by the incongruence between my hope for the outcome and what actually transpired. You can hope for the wins to come as the years pass, that your hard work will be rewarded, but I’ve also realized that success and rewards for hard work don’t always come in the way we might expect.

If I learned anything over these four years, it’s that everything you do must be for a higher purpose, a purpose that is greater than any individual, including yourself. But more than that, it especially cannot be for any individual. You will never meet the expectations, real or imagined, of another person.

My gift as a person is my optimism. I have a vision of what I want for my life and how I want to do things and I want to make my world fit with that vision. I am grateful to have had some amazing moments during my four years. The experience of my name being announced in my hometown, in front of friends and family. The experiences of meeting younger players who wished they could be me. The experiences of coming full circle and giving back to my hometown. The experiences of some awesome teammates, seeing them succeed and having relationships with them. The experience of triumph, embracing a teammate after an extra inning win and knowing that both of you love each other unconditionally.

Even through all the losses, it was worth it. Instead of quashing my spirit for what lies ahead, instead of killing my love for this game, it has only enhanced the vision I have for the future. My eyes have been opened to what exactly I want for this life. By experiencing shadows I can more easily see the light. Like lights being dimmed in a theatre before the first scene of a play, these four years have allowed me to refine my focus, on the story I want to write, the life I want to live.

Every time light is cast out, it creates shadows. When the sun rises, you see the shadows first. Sometimes it takes the shadows to show us where the light is coming from. Even though I am coming out of a shadow, I know where the light is. This is just a plot point on a long journey, the story of my life. Even the best stories have dark spots. My narrative however, will always be one of gratitude, hope, and everlasting joy for the life I’ve been given.

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