Victory from Defeat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Our bench became deathly silent,except for my coach, who was cheering and giving advice. Myteam groaned because I was the one at bat. My coach said to bequiet, or support me. I nervously started to the plate,inching toward the box. The second before I stepped in, I knewthis time would be different. I would hit the ball, scoringfor my team. As I entered the box, the girls on all threebases cheered listlessly for me. I got ready, as the umpirespoke quietly to me. Just like my coach, he was telling me torelax and just swing. I nodded and was ready for theball.

When the pitch started toward me, I knew it was aball. I knew it, tightened my hands on the bat and stoodstock-still. The umpire mumbled, "Strike one." Hethen spoke a few words of encouragement. The next pitch came.It had to be a ball; I just knew it. "Strike two."One of my teammates stood up and yelled, "Just swing thebat!" The catcher behind me was whispering over and over,"You can do it." When the next pitch came, I swung."Strike three."

Cheers erupted from the otherteam, curses from mine. We had lost the championship, by onerun, because of me. My coach gave the after-game talk; itwasn't one person's fault and so on. We had a little party onthe field but my team shunned me.

I stood, alone,knowing I would never let this happen again. I looked as lostas I felt, standing there with my uniform shirt hanging to myknees, still wearing the extra, extra small helmet, which wasso big it kept slipping down. Suddenly my coach was by myshoulder.

"So," he said, "you are comingback next year, right?"

"Coach, I will behere waiting for you to start. I may not be good this year butjust wait until next year."

He never laughed; hejust said okay. When I turned on my heel, with all the dignityin the world, my too-big helmet remained pointing at my coach.As the other parents laughed, my coach, who remained serious,told them I was right.

I came back the next year. Imade it into the infield and became their best batter. Mycoach taught me to ignore what people said. I never made funof the new girls; instead, I helped them. Often, due tonervousness or inexperience, they would make mistakes, whichthe parents and other team members found stupid. I knew how itfelt to lack the confidence or resilience to push the mistakeaside and concentrate on what was coming next. They had tolearn to accept mistakes as rest areas on the highway ofsuccess. Because of my understanding, they would first becomemy friends, and then the rest of the team would acceptthem.

My coach never forgot me, either. He told me oncethat I was the reason he kept coaching even after his daughterquit. Every time we met after I moved up to the next league,he would tell his team to watch me because I had the heart hewanted his team to learn. Now, because of him, I am gettinginto the league, umpiring and possibly coaching.

Iwill always remember the eight-year-old who lost thechampionship and how she went on to be one of the best in theleague. Now, I want to help the scared girl find theconfidence to try for a play, risk mistakes and love the gameas much as I do. I hope that when others reach the stage I amat now, they will remember how it felt to overcome ridiculewith the help of a stranger and then become that stranger foranother girl.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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