Returning home …
This weekend we travel to the conference tournament, to a place I called home for 6 years. It is a place of familiarity to me. I know the field like the back of my hand: the smells, the sounds, the familiar faces, everything about it. I spent more time on that field than anywhere else on campus and it shows by my grades :). I’ve seen wonderful things happen on that field; I’ve seen amazing plays, team unity, pride, and home runs that seem like they can go forever.
But this will be the first time I travel back to my former home proudly wearing the new colors of blue and gold. I’m with a different team now. A team that works harder than any team I know of and the girls will attest to this after on of their hard conditioning workouts. Its a team that really is a team where everyone contributes and everyone has ownership to its success.
For a long time I was an outsider looking in wondering how does a program like Eau Claire continue to succeed year after year? How do they get their teams to perform at their fullest potential every time out? When I arrived this fall and joined the team I learned quickly why. To start off the main coaching staff here is some of the best coaches you can find in DIII softball. They know how to win and they expect to win every time out. If you know Coach, you know what I am talking about. She is one of the most competitive people I have ever met. Loosing is not in her vocabulary. But because of her competitiveness, her players learn how to win and they soon expect the same things she wants. People have asked “what is it like to play there?” The pressure to play at the top level at all times must be intense and overwhelming. It can be but as we say “Pressure is a Privilege”.
One of the things that got said this fall by a staff member has stuck with me till this point. There are 400+ colleges at the Division III level, 50 of those teams will pull to the top to compete for a National Championship by the end of fall. When you come back in the winter after practicing in the off season on your own there will be 20 teams at that point that have worked hard enough when a coach wasn’t there that will make a legit run for the 8 team championship. Will you be one of those teams? I honestly believe that we have put in the work necessary to be one of those top 8 teams. There was so much time spent in the gym taking those extra cuts, getting the extra grounders, working out and climbing their way to the top, and putting in the extra work when no one else was looking. Take pride in the hard work you have put in. Go on and dominate for yourself and for your team. You owe this to yourself.
I want to leave you with a few parting quotes:
“A true champion is someone who wants to make a difference, who never gives up, and who gives everything she has no matter what the circumstances. A true champion works hard and never loses sight of her dreams”. –Dot Richardson
“It’s always about wanting to one-up myself from the day before. There’s never an absolute 100% perfect performance, but going out and striving for that perfect performance is what keeps me going.” – Cat Osterman
“A winner’s strongest muscle is her heart”-Cassie Campbell
“You have to chase your dreams, no matter what. The impossible just takes a little longer. One stroke at a time, one step at a time, the impossible is easy to achieve.” –Tori Murden