Dear Warrior - Fight For Your Dreams
Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in?
Growing up, I was a goofy little kid. As everyone else was getting bigger and stronger, I felt like I stuck out for how little I was. My teammates used to tell me that I was weak and I struggled to believe in my abilities. At the time, the words of others affected my confidence on the field, but I learned to use them as motivation instead of letting them tear me down. Once I learned this lesson, there was no stopping me.
In seventh grade, I switched to slap-hitting. I was so upset by this because I believed that the reason I had to switch was because I wasn’t as good as my teammates. I remember crying to my mom after my first hitting lesson as a slapper and saying that I was never going to be able to hit a homerun.
After some time and a lot of practicing, It turned out that switching to the left side was one of the best decisions my coaches and I could have ever made! Although hitting a homerun was important to me, it was better for my team that I switch to the left side.
I put hours of work into my skills in slapping because I wanted to prove to my teammates and coaches that I was there to get better and wasn’t going to settle with doing the minimum. Soon, I started getting on base more. I started small with bunting and placement slapping in the infield, but everything changed for me when I learned how to power slap.
It didn’t come easy, though. I started lifting weights to get stronger and went to hit multiple times a week. My friends and I kept each other accountable and would often throw front toss to each other outside of our regularly scheduled practice time. Once I started seeing progress in my hitting and my mental game, I was addicted to getting better at the sport I loved and decided I wanted to play softball in college.
During my senior year of high school, I committed to the University of Nebraska at Kearney. When I got on campus, I was overwhelmed with how tightly knit the team already was. I put a lot of pressure on myself to prove to my teammates and coaches that I could earn a spot. It was the first time in years that I had felt that much pressure to perform. Fast forward to our first game and I was the only freshman starter and was the lead-off batter. Talk about pressure!
Can you guess what I did?
- I struck out!
The next at-bat?
- I struck out again!
Third times a charm, right?
- Nope. I struck out a third time!
Later in the season, I was asked in an interview what had happened in that first game. I told them that in those first three at-bats, I had lost confidence in myself and had forgotten all the hard work I’d put in all year long to get me to that point. I learned an important lesson, though. I learned how important it was to trust myself and all my hard work. As I worked on this confidence, it got me into a better headspace and I felt ready to go up to bat again!
The truth is, softball takes a lot of skill. Confidence was something I learned to develop over time and is something I continuously have to keep in check. The same is true for the physical aspects of the game; I have to put work into maintaining and further improving my skills.
You can achieve any goal that you have, but it won’t just fall into your lap. It’s going to require a lot of hard work, dedication, and persistence. Let the extra reps and hard work build your confidence. When game time comes you can look back on all your preparation and gain confidence from it. Let the memory of your hard work remind you that you are capable, strong, and prepared.
I know what it feels like to think you’re not good enough. I was the little girl on the team that batted last and didn’t play on Sunday during bracket play. But you don’t have to stay stuck in those feelings. Do something about it and over time, things will start to fall in place. You’ll gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.
Through your hard work and confidence, you can empower others to do the same. Your confidence will shine through you and the difference will be noticed not only by you but by everyone around you as well!
Trust the process,
Carlee is a junior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney where she studies Industrial Distribution and is a member of the varsity softball team. Carlee treasures the small details of the game like the feeling of the laces between her fingertips and the sound of the ball popping off the sweet spot of the bat. These little things and the memories she makes with her teammates are the parts of softball that she holds closest to her heart.