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The Dream

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it hurt? Only to have that dream unexpectedly ripped away? For me, that dream – in short – came in the form of a softball jersey. I had worked my derrière off all summer long in preparation for tryouts – early morning weightlifting, long distance runs, and more drill work than you could possibly imagine. My freshman season was going to be perfect or so I had decided. But often life takes some unexpected turns – mine just so happened to come as an enlarged plica band in my left knee.

“Abbi - you have what is called an enlarged plica band. This is what makes running and bending extremely painful,” stated Dr. Main, the orthopedic surgeon at the Midwest Bone and Joint Center.

“What does that mean in regards to me playing fall ball?”

“Abbi your left knee is very weak, and if we don’t excise the plica band now – you run the risk of tearing your ACL, which would take you out of ball for 12+ months,” explained Dr. Main.

As I quickly began to speak, panic slowly set in. What would this mean for my season? Why was this happening now? This was supposed to be my perfect freshman season.

“Can this wait? How long will I be out for if we go through with this?”

“If we do this now, you will be out for a maximum of seven weeks, and will then be eligible for four fall ball games.”

Then, as Dr. Main spoke, my world came crashing down around me. My “perfect freshman season” had been devastated in a matter of moments. A surgery date was set, preparations were made, and the decisions were finalized even before I was fully aware of the repercussions that it would have on me or my softball career.

Next, what seemed like moments later came the therapy, hours and hours of mindless, tedious, pain inducing exercises, seemingly meant to bore me instead of improve my knee back to playing level. School ball practice had just started – so there was no escape from the pain of my inability to play. Sitting up in the bleachers, my left knee covered in ice, and not being able to move, I watched. Rain or shine, practice or game, I watched every sign, every pitch, every play – trying to glean any tips, any information to help me the moment I could step onto the field again. Seeing all those other girls out on the field, throwing, going through infield, playing four corners, and going through team meetings, all with me watching from the sidelines, made my heart hurt and my stomach roll. Frustrated and jealous, I studied the upperclassmen trying to see what they did whenever they succeeded.

Then – something shifted. Suddenly everything I did, whether it was at therapy or at home, everything was geared toward putting on my cleats and getting back onto that field. And when that day came, I was ready. Ready to get dressed, ready to put on that jersey and play in it for the very first time, I could barely contain myself on the way to the game. I didn’t care whether I was the bat girl or if I was stuck in right field for half an inning. I was amazingly content to walk out at the end of the game and shake hands with the opposing team, win or lose, no matter whether I had played or not. The glory of that game - and the glory of all the games I had sat out on, came rushing back. I realized how much I missed the game, how much I missed the smell of the grass and the feeling of my cleats laced tight against my blue socks. I realized all in one moment, what the game truly embodied, and what it honestly meant, to me, #9.



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