It was June of 2014 when I received a phone call that I had made my town’s all-star softball team. I didn’t know it then, but that call was about to turn my entire life around.
When I had been recruited for that team three years ago, I was completely and utterly shocked. I didn’t think I worked hard at all to make that team, so I figured I was just a naturally great player and thought I didn’t even need to practice to do good. I mean, how hard could this team be?
But I was going to learn just how hard this team could be… and how hard I would have to work to keep up.
I still remember the first practice I went to for my new team. The other girls were phenomenal players and were very intimidating to a small girl such as myself, and I was so high-strung. Whenever I would mess up by swinging and missing or dropping the ball, the other girls always seemed to give me that how-did-you-even-get-on-this-team look, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t so sure myself.
When games started, I was a substitute, and I usually played a maximum of two innings per game. I started having very little faith in my abilities, and I began to think maybe I just wasn’t talented enough to be on this team.
I was so relieved when the season was over because I wasn’t very fond of sitting the bench and constantly being degraded as a player, but after a few weeks, my mom received a phone call from my coach. He had invited all the girls on my all-star team to try out for our town’s travel softball team. I was very hesitant about going. I didn’t want to get rejected and embarrass myself, yet my dad still ended up convincing me to go.
“Just go play and try your best, and I’m sure you’ll make the team!” he told me, and although his reassurance didn’t make me feel any better, it did motivate me to set a goal. I did want to make the team. I was going to make the team.
My dad and I would walk up to the field on my street and practice throwing, catching, and hitting in attempt to help me improve. The number of days seemed to fly off the calendar, and each day I worked harder than the one before. The day for tryouts came around faster than a speeding bullet. I had little confidence that I would make the team. I simply didn’t believe I had enough talent. Still, a little part of me hoped that all my hard work, practice, and preparation would pay off.
Once I arrived at the softball complex, I secluded myself from the other girls because I was extremely shy; nevertheless, I walked onto the field with a positive attitude, a smile on my face, and played to my greatest potential.
Waiting for the call to find out if I made the team was torturous. I knew the waiting period for the other girls was easy; they knew they made the team. They were all prodigious players. I, however, was still convinced I was not talented enough, and although my parents would never say it to my face, I knew they were unsure as well.
I was in school in social studies when my mom came into the classroom. She worked at the school, so I didn’t think much of it. She then walked up to me with that you-better-run-because-you’re-in-big-trouble stare, and a million thoughts raced through my mind. “What could have I possibly done wrong?” I thought anxiously, but her dirty look immediately turned exuberant. The news she gave me would forever impact my life: I had made the team. I was hysterical.
“I made the team!” I yelled out to her. My classmates started applauding me, and although they were only joking around, I was on cloud nine. All my hard work and practicing had paid off, and I was able to be on a team with these unbelievable players who would help me learn and grow as a softball player and an individual. These girls soon became my greatest friends and all those fears of intimidation, nervousness, and embarrassing myself soon faded away into nothing.
Coaches and even just regular people to this day continue to tell me, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Three years ago, I was just a shy, untalented, bench-sitting softball player with few friends and little motivation, and today, I am a starting softball player with many of my best friends made from this team. Times have changed but not a moment goes by when I don’t think about how much making that team impacted my life, and I owe it all to preparation, practice, and most importantly, hard work.
And this I believe; it doesn’t matter how talented, untalented, fearless, nervous, confident, or self-conscious you are. If you want something in life, you must work hard for it.