Dear Warrior - The Game Does Not Define You
Softball will be the love of your life and your safest space, but it will also expose the cracks in your armor and there will be times when it leaves you with an aching heart. Throughout your career, you will experience liberating and amazing moments that will leave you with strong feelings of pride and joy. But when the tough times hit, you will also experience equally strong emotions that aren’t as enjoyable. It is the ying and the yang of this beautiful game we play. During the highest of highs and lowest of lows, you need to remember one thing….
Who you are is not what you do on the field. The results of this game do not define you. Your worth does not lie in numbers; No batting average is a reflection of who you are at your core. Your strength is not defined by how many home runs you’ve hit or your fielding percentage. The greatest players in this game succeed 4 times out of 10. As young players, we hear the redundant statement, “it’s a game of failure”. If we know this to be true, why do we think it's okay to put our worth in the results of this sport?
Change your perspective and let the game mold you but never let it define you. You are great. You are brilliant. Who you are is reflected in how you treat your teammates, how you bounce back from the trials and tribulations, how quickly you can recover from a failure, and your willingness to grow and evolve after you fall.
At the end of the day, your teammates, coaches, family, and peers will not remember your statistics, the plays you made, or the hits you had. They won't remember who started every game and who played the best on a given day. They will remember how you played the game - your grit, your poise, and the fire and personality you brought to the game. They will remember what kind of teammate you were. They’ll remember if you said “please and thank you”, how treated your mom and dad, and how kind you were. Though you may not believe this now, when your career is over and you look back on your playing days, you won’t remember most of the details of the games either.
But you will, without a doubt, remember your best friends and the way you felt after a great play. You’ll remember the sound of your teammates and fans cheering during a close game. You’ll remember the feeling of having dirt in your hands and the relief of taking your cleats off after a 10 hour day on the ball field. You’ll remember the feeling of sore cheeks from that big smile you wore after watching a teammate do something great. You’ll remember the high fives and the dog piles. You’ll look back and laugh at the inside jokes you had with your teammates while at practice and in the dugout.
Take these moments and shine light on them. Hold them close. Give thanks for the light at the end of the tunnel and also for the darkness you experience while traveling through it. It has made you stronger. Who you are is not dependent on whether you go 0-4 or 4-4 in a game.
There will be tough games as well as moments that make you feel like you could take over the world. Love yourself through both. Regardless of what the scoreboard reads, be proud of who you are. Because nothing and no one can take that away from you.
A Virginia native, Bella has spent her undergraduate career studying sports media and catching for Indiana University. She will be returning to IU in the fall to pursue a Master's in school counseling and will be using her fifth year of NCAA eligibility that was granted to her as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bella plans to coach in the future so that she can change softball on the East Coast and empower young girls to become strong women.
"Who you are is not what you do on the field. The results of this game do not define you."