I have played this sport for 15 years. That is nearly all of my conscious lifetime. It is what I know, and what I have known and loved for so long. It has brought me so many memories, experiences, opportunities, and friendships that I never would have had otherwise, and for that I am eternally thankful.
That being said, I have made the choice to medically retire from the sport at the conclusion of this season. For those that know me, or have read my story, physically, my career has been challenging. As of lately, even more significantly so. Mentally, these challenges have taken quite a toll. So it is for both my physical and mental well-being that I have chosen to no longer play softball competitively.
That is not to say I will no longer be an athlete, or no longer be a Seton Hall fan. I am so incredibly grateful for the support I have received from everyone here at Seton Hall. To my coaches, administrators, advisors, training staff, teammates: thank you. This was an experience that I will never forget and that will always shape who I am as a person. I may no longer be competing in athletics, but I will continue to be an athlete. What this means yet I do not know, but I look forward to finding new ways to flourish my passion for movement and sport at a level that coincides with my health.
To softball: While you have put me through more challenges than I ever expected to face and forced me to be more resilient than I ever planned, I am nothing but grateful. Every experience that you have brought me, the good and bad, have made me who I am and I cannot thank you enough for that. To commemorate, I thought I would take you on a bit of a photo journey throughout time.
Looking through these photos brought up an overwhelming amount of memories, both good and bad. I didn't intend for this to be emotional, and I hope for those that know me and have experienced part of this journey with me, that these photos brought happy, or funny, or nostalgic feelings rather than sad ones. Choosing these photos was like watching myself grow up again, and it almost feels like looking at an entirely different person. I could not be more proud of the girl in these pictures, whatever stage she was at. I can remember how each and every one of these photos felt - from the first to the last - and I am so lucky for that.
Why am I lucky? I mean, of course some of these pictures bring up negative emotions or anxious memories. In the one from ESPN Wide World of Sports my leg is broken (if you couldn't tell by the next one), and in the second to last one I had undergone shoulder surgery just 9 days earlier and taken off my sling just for the photo. But I believe that those are just as important as the ones from my first home run (3rd), or my high school senior night.
This life is full of sensations - adrenaline, exhilaration, surprise, shock, fear, guilt, you name it. We go in search of the positive ones and along the way experience the negatives, but no one sensation is more important than the other. The combination of sensations we experience in this life is what makes us who we are, and what makes this life so exciting.
So, what I am trying to say is that without these sensations, these experiences, I would not be the girl who is writing this today. And, sure, the current version of me is not without flaws or insecurities, I am only human. However, she is the best version of me yet - the one I am most proud of as I look back through time.
If not for being cut from my middle school team, I would never have landed at Seton Hall. Along the way, I would never have traveled the country, tried new foods, rode new roller coasters, swam in the Pacific Ocean, made life long friends, or met my uncle in California. So many of my life experiences are related to softball in some way and I am so incredibly grateful for that. The twelve year old version of me made a decision that ultimately led me to my work with The Hidden Opponent here at Seton Hall, and even my interest in communications - where my career will lie. I cannot explain how special I think that is.
Unfortunately, my body has been unable to keep up with the things I have demanded of it since that young age of 12. Between five significant injuries, two orthopedic surgeries, and two hospitalizations, it has dawned on me how unkind I have been to my body with how much it has done for me. While softball has been the majority of my life up to this point, I realize that the true majority of my life happens after sport, and I need to care for my body in order to be able to live the life that I want. The main goal in my life is to be healthy, both physically and mentally, and I have come to realize that I can not achieve that while continuing to compete athletically.
I want you to know that that's okay. While it is not the end that the earlier versions of myself had imagined, it is not an end I am ashamed of. I set a goal to play college softball and I achieved it - that is something worth being proud of. However, for the sake of my health, it is time to move on to the next chapter of my life.
I am so thankful for the people who have understood, empathized, and supported my decision. It is not the one I wanted to make - and for so long I so desperately explored my options and tried everything possible to avoid having to make it. This was not something I took lightly. While softball has had both its positives and negatives, I cannot stress enough how important I feel that it has been in my life. Softball has taught me lessons and helped me to develop mentally and physically in so many remarkable ways. Unfortunately, it is when development turns to destruction that it is time to make a change, and so it is time for me to hang up my cleats.
While I will be leaving behind softball and my time as a student-athlete, I will take with me each and every one of the memories I have made throughout my career, and especially here at Seton Hall. I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life knowing that I can look back and see so many people who have stood behind me. I have always said that relationships are the most important thing we have in life, and I whole-heartedly believe that. I am excited to see where life takes me next - but I will always be an athlete, and I will always be a Pirate --this is a community like no other and for that I will always be grateful.
"When we stop re-reading the last chapter of our life, we leave room to write a new one."
To everyone who has been a part of my journey, whether big or small: thank you.