Dear Warrior - Find a Way to Pivot
I will always remember March 12, 2020, as one of the hardest days I’ve ever faced as an athlete. I remember sitting in my teammate’s dorm room when all of our phones simultaneously buzzed with a new message from our coach. She explained to us the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the NCAA had made the executive decision to cancel all remaining games and championship competitions for the rest of the academic year. Truthfully, it felt like a bad dream..one of those things that you endure for a few moments and then wake up in relief that none of it was real.
I remember joining one of my senior leaders at a local Starbucks later that afternoon and seeing her cry in disbelief that her career had been cut short on someone else’s terms and for reasons completely out of her control. We had sixteen games under our belt and our season had been off to a strong start. We were ready - all our hard work and hours spent together in the weight room, gym, and field were about to pay off.
For as long as I can remember, I had worked to get to the day when I’d finally wear a college jersey, fight for a spot in postseason play, and experience first hand what life was like as a collegiate athlete. I had worked my entire life for this dream, and here it was, come and gone in one afternoon. I think every softball player in America lost something that day, in one way or another…
I felt frustrated and disappointed by my circumstances in quarantine. But I had a decision to make. I could let my feelings keep me stuck or I could find a way to use them as fuel and make me better. Because I had worked so hard to achieve a dream that looked far different than I expected, I was discouraged by my situation and needed to find a way to mentally pivot so that I could keep pressing forward. I started leaning into the softball and baseball community by following along with other athletes who were training by themselves at home and posting videos. This kept me motivated and reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my feelings or struggles. If they could do it, I could do it. Little by little, I started to chip away at my goals and found creative ways to get better.
Warrior, we all reach points in our careers that discourage us. Whether it’s losing a starting position or a big game, an injury, or falling short of a goal, it’s okay to feel all the emotions that come along with the disappointment. Feel them, acknowledge them, but don’t let the feelings take over. Take a step back, re-center, and pivot!
Disappointment may feel like the end of the world, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. There will be opportunities to try again, more nail-biting competitions, and many more opportunities to take part in this game that we love. Don’t stay stuck in the disappointment so much that you forget to prepare for the next great thing coming your way. Learn to work while you wait. Even when one door closes, another one will be opening right around the corner and you want to be ready for it!
You’ll face hard things, every great athlete does. But none of these things will have the power to dictate your story. You are not defined by your circumstances because you are strong and have the ability to pivot. Ask for help. Get creative. Keep trying new things. Stay true to yourself and your why. One day you will look back and admire your story, not because it was perfect but because you were determined, resilient, and always found a way to keep moving forward.
Rooting for you,
Diane is a rising sophomore at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She plays the corners for the Devils and is studying Pharmacy with the goal of one day working in a hospital. When it comes to softball, her number one goal is to help her team be their best both on and off the field.