Dear Warrior - Be Relentless
I often describe the journey in pursuit of a goal as a hike up a steep mountain. Though the climb takes every once of our effort, the satisfaction and pride that comes from finally reaching the top of the mountain, reaching that goal, is like nothing else. But what happens in the times when negativity comes barreling down the mountain and threatens to take us down with it before we reach the top? How quickly do we lose our footing and lose sight of the goal because of the storm?
This week we caught up with the University of Maryland softball alumna, Sami Main, whose dedication and relentless hard work earned her not only the opportunity to represent her home state on the diamond but created a legacy of empowering those around her join in the pursuit of excellence.
Sami was recruited to pitch for the University of Maryland and was offered a roster spot before her senior year of high school was completed. While Sami felt like she had finally reached a dream come true, it was shattered when she learned of a coaching change and that the new head coach would be retracting the offer that had been extended by the previous coaching staff.
While many would abandon that path and pursue another school with a guaranteed roster spot, Sami stayed focused on her dream of playing for her home state. She knew that just because her route had forcibly changed, it didn’t mean that the goal had to. She just had to find another way to get there. For the first two weeks of the semester, Sami worked out alone in preparation for an open tryout where she could compete for a spot as a walk-on.
“I knew I was good enough...I just had to prove it,” she told us.
After a multi-week tryout period, Sami was officially offered a roster spot for Maryland, the only offer that would be given to a walk-on that year.
Even though Sami was the hardest worker on the team, it wasn’t until her senior year that she got the opportunities to play that she felt she deserved. She told us of the frustrations that came along with unwavering hard work and seemingly no progress towards her goals. She admitted that it was hard to keep a positive attitude when she didn’t get what she wanted. But she found that she could still lead the team by setting an example of hard work and bringing others along with her for extra reps and training with the intent of making them better.
“I love the game and I want to show people that you can stay for four years and prosper even if you’re not always the go-to or your team doesn’t always win. You can still do it if you want to and if it’s fulfilling to you. You have to work not only to improve yourself but to influence others. That’s the big thing...not only working hard for yourself but working hard to get others to work with you.”
There will be times in your career, Warrior, when it may feel like none of your hard work is paying off. It can be easy to fall backward and lose sight of our goals when the circumstances along our path are far from what we had hoped for. But maybe the journey isn’t about getting everything we thought we wanted. Maybe it’s about learning how to play the cards we’re dealt and choosing to lean into our difficulty rather than run away from it or waste time wishing it was different.
Who you are is not determined by what is going on around you. It’s easy to be positive when everything is going our way. The real test of our character is what we do when the odds aren’t in our favor. How do we react when we’ve spent the whole offseason sharpening our skills and still get beat out for that starting spot? How do we choose to spend our time when an injury keeps us sidelined for the big game?
Do we abandon our why when our circumstances get stormy? Or do we accept the challenge of allowing the struggle and disappointment to make us better? You will not have control over everything that happens in your softball career, but you do have control over how you choose to respond to it.
When we asked Sami what helped her to keep a positive mindset during the hardest days of her career, she told us of a drawer that she kept filled with all her memories of mountain top moments from her career. She would open the drawer and remind herself what she was capable of the things she had achieved throughout her career even if the current goal was not yet reached. “You have to force your mind to focus on the positive and fill it with good things rather than the negative.”
When we focus our attention on the light rather than the darkness, we empower ourselves to stand firm in spite of our circumstances. Like Sami, we can then go out and influence others to do the same. This is leadership. This leaves an impact on the hearts of those around us that is far more significant than the memory of a home run or a shutout.
Girl, you got this!
Team Fearless, inspired by Sami Main
About Sami Main
A Frederick, Maryland native, Sami pitched and played second base for the Terps. She studied kinesiology in school and is now preparing for work as a physician. Sami loves to compete and now share that passion with young athletes. No matter the situation, Sami is always the hardest worker in the room and thrives off of empowering others to live with the same relentless determination.
You will not have control over everything that happens in your softball career, but you have complete control over how you choose to respond to it.