When that magical time of year rolls around, and softball season begins, a seasoned player is not filled with anticipation but rather relief. They are relieved to be getting back to their game, their team, their passion. Jersey colors and team banners are trivial details best left to the parents to argue and fight about. The players just want to get together and play ball, they really don’t care if their jerseys are red or blue. Just because they are girls doesn’t mean they want a girly team name. Unless you are naming a team for four and five year olds do not call them The Little Ponies or The Sweethearts. The name should still infer that these ball players are tough and being girls doesn’t change that.
Players are so relieved to be back with their team when practices start that they really do give their all on the field. A player will come home just as dirty from practice as they will a after double header. They are so willing to work hard during practices, because female athletes always feel like they need to prove themselves. It isn’t assumed they are tough so they must prove they are to their teammates and more importantly their coaches, for their coach will ultimately decide how much play time they receive and in what position that time will be spent. Every new season brings hope for more play time than the last and to be assigned to the position they hope for.
The younger the player the more obvious their choice of positions will be. Younger girls have not yet learned to value playing in any position on the field. They have dreams of being the pitcher or first base since those two positions see the most action. They have not yet learned that a good outfield turns a big hit into an out with one catch. A good outfielder is a game changer, yet a younger player will still see the outfield as a punishment or a sign that they aren’t good enough to be in the infield. One day that young player will learn to appreciate every spot on the field for the role it plays in the game. However, that day won’t come until their parents finally believe the same thing.
Opening day is like Christmas morning and Independence Day all rolled into one. If the players are able to sleep the night before, they wake up with great anticipation of what the day will hold. Players just know that their team is going to take the field and roll right over the competition just like they knew they were going to find that one special gift under the tree that they couldn’t live without. The field looks like the scene of a postcard with a fresh new layer of infield dirt and the chalk lines are somehow more crisp and beautiful than they will be for the rest of the season. Game time is like the fireworks on The Fourth of July, the crack of your team bats launching ball after ball into the outfield, like the bang of mortars shooting up into the sky. The grand finale, an epic grand slam to win the game.
There is nothing like celebrating a win with the team, to be able to look at eleven other girls in identical jerseys and know at that exact moment they are feeling the same amount of pride, excitement, and adrenaline that all the other players are feeling is magical. It’s what brings the team together and what helps them all to make it through their first loss as well. It’s what drives players to practice harder and what causes the butterflies in their stomach while they’re up to bat. It’s what makes each one of them take risks, to dive for that ball that may be just out of their reach, to slide into home plate even when the catcher is standing guard with the ball in hand. It’s the reason why scrapes and bruises are badges of honor