Dear Warrior - Run Your Race
You are exactly where you are supposed to be! Even after three years of playing college softball, I still have to remind myself of this. My home is about forty-minutes from the University of Maryland and growing up I was surrounded by all things UMD. I went to camps and games, emailed their coaches, and followed just about every player on Instagram. It wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to be a Terp.
I felt like a little fish in the world's largest pond when I entered UMD as a freshman. I had always been the best on previous teams but I quickly learned that the same was true for all of my new teammates. Being what my coach loved to call a “backyard kid”, I was shell-shocked to suddenly be facing SEC pitchers. I did well and with my success came more opportunities to help my team by earning a spot in the lineup.
Knowing the reputations and accomplishments of my teammates, this little voice in my head started to tell me that I was just lucky. I started to believe that I was just lucky to be getting hits, lucky to be in the lineup, lucky to be on the team. Lucky, as if I hadn’t worked hard for years to represent my state at the highest level. Lucky, as if being from Maryland meant I was inherently less than my teammates from other places. It was like my own brain was working against me and there were moments where I believed the little voice telling me I had bitten off more than I could chew.
Over time, I’ve learned that comparison is the thief of joy. I know it sounds cliche but it's true. To be successful at the collegiate level (or any level for that matter), you have to run YOUR race. The only person you should try to outperform is the person you were yesterday. As long as you are doing the best you can do, the rest will take care of itself. Coaches are hired to win. If a coach wants you on their team it is because they believe you will help them win. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will start every game or hit .500. But those aren't the only ways you can help your team. You can help your team by picking a change-up, stealing second as a pinch-runner, or by being a good vibe in the dugout. There is no role too big or too small.
After a lot of reflection, I realized that the universe doesn’t make mistakes. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Your reason for being may be very different from someone else’s and you aren’t doing yourself any favors wishing you were them. Trust yourself and don’t take the game too seriously. Play carefree and enjoy every moment. It’s the same game you’ve been playing since you were a little girl with bright eyes and big dreams.
I’ve experienced many highs and lows throughout my softball journey, but I am thankful for the lessons softball has taught me about life and myself along the way. I have learned that I am stronger than the little voices in my head. I am more than enough and so are you! You are electric, evolving, and exactly where you are supposed to be.
Have fun, be a good human, and enjoy the ride,
Born and raised in Clinton, Maryland, Taylor Wilson is a kinesiology student and softball player at the University of Maryland. She is very passionate about access and inclusion in sports and looks forward to pursuing a master's degree in sports management after her graduation from the University of Maryland.
"The only person you should try to outperform is the person you were the day before. As long as you are doing the best you can do, the rest will take care of itself."