I remember my postseason meeting with my coach after my freshman season at Southeastern University like it was yesterday. I had worked myself to the max all year. I became stronger, faster, improved my skills, and our team made it to the national championship. Yet I remember walking out of that meeting defeated.
All year, my coach had been on my back. It felt like nothing I did was ever good enough. I had had tough coaches in the past and I knew I could take it, I knew I was mentally strong, but for some reason, this was different. During that meeting, she told me that she thought I was overweight, and during the summer, I needed to go on a no-carb diet. She also said that I had to play travel softball the whole summer or my skills wouldn’t improve enough to see the field.
Fast forward to the end of that summer. I had played travel softball the entire summer. I ended up being the only catcher because of injuries, so I was catching over seven games a weekend. On top of that, I was on this diet she told me to be on and I was losing weight pretty quickly, almost to the point where I was losing too much muscle along with it.
I remember the game clearly, I hit the ball and was running to first, and as I hit first base, I felt something go awry in my knee. I had already had one knee surgery in the past, so I knew immediately that something was wrong.
Two months later, I was being wheeled into surgery to put two metal screws in my shin to hold my patella tendon in place and put putty in where my cartilage was supposed to be. At first, I was told I would never play again. This crushed me, but I refused to believe it; I was going to play.
I worked as hard as I could that summer and fall to get back to be able to play in the spring. The fall was horrible. There were times that those of us that were injured were not allowed to be at practice because we “distracted” our coach. But at the same time, our coach was trying to push our trainers to get me back to playing earlier and earlier. I was finally able to play our second game of the year, which happened to be part of a tripleheader.
The trainer told my coach that I could catch a few innings. But after the three games were over, I had caught one whole game and three-fourths of another, which was way too much for me to be doing out of the gate. I remember going into the training room after the game in tears with my coach telling me I was fine but my trainer being very concerned that I may have worsened my knee. From that point on, the rest of my sophomore year, I had no drive to play softball, go to class, eat, or do anything. All I knew was that I had to get away from where I was, but I didn’t quite know how to do that.
Luckily, I had my best friend who was also at the same college. Later that semester, she came to me and we started talking about the idea of transferring. At the time, I didn’t even think that I wanted to go to school anymore, let alone play softball. I hated the person I had become and I just felt lost. The more we talked about transferring, the more I was willing to give it a try. I knew I had to do something. I was able to play at this point, though my performance was suffering because I had zero confidence in myself and my ability. I had honestly convinced myself that I was horrible at softball.
Finally, we decided we were going to transfer and started looking for places we could go. Luckily, my best friend’s pitching coach was one of the coaches at Carthage College. We talked to him and he said they needed a pitcher and catcher, but he’d talk to the head coach. She called us later and said that she’d love to have us come. On that day, we took a leap of faith and decided to leave to go somewhere we hoped we would be happier.
Now, I just graduated in May 2020 and I can honestly say that transferring was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I found a coach and a team that made me know my self-worth and helped me find confidence on and off the field. My new coach had asked us why we transferred and I told her my story. Throughout my two years playing for her, she never let my confidence waver. My team helped me find myself again and my love for softball. Transferring taught me that no matter how lost you feel, you can always find yourself again.