by Cassie G., Age 15 , Grade 9, Lawson High School, Lawson, MISSOURI USA
Teacher: Kathy Jacobsen
By: Cassie Greene
“I CAN’T do this anymore!” I sobbed with warm heavy tears sliding down my face.
“It’s going to take time,’ you’ve been off for a long time,” insisted my mom with a smile that was somehow supposed to uplift my spirits.
The fall of my eighth grade year all my priorities changed. they from getting my form down to spike a volleyball, to getting form down to pitch a fastball. When I finally decided to tell my parents I wanted to go back to the sport I quit in fourth grade, they told me that it would not be easy. However if it’s what I wanted to do, they would help me through it and be my biggest supporters. With that I started my bumpy journey to resume the sport I had missed so much.
When I first began the refocus to softball, I thought it would be a walk in the park, but image quickly dissipated. Whenever I pitched for the very first time again, I was struggling to keep it in the strike zone. The worst thing was I was slower than whenever I pitched in fourth grade. That made me lose a lot of confidence and question my decision on coming back to pitching. With the first day back being over, all I felt like I gained was a very sore arm and some bug bites. It lite a fire inside of me. If someone would’ve asked what I planned to do, I would have told him a very compelling sentence.
“I’m going to work every day from now until the day I can pitch with the best speed and accuracy that Lawson has ever seen” and, with a big heart towards the game, I looked and sounded as determined as ever. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve this dream but I was going to achieve it no matter what.
“ We’re going to go back to the basics,” said my new pitching coach, Season.
She had such a confident sound to her that I thought it would be so easy. But those were not the words I wanted to here. When the lesson was over and I walked back to my car in the crisp cool fall air. As a leaf fell I slowly watched it sway in the air till it hits the ground, and as if I had just been the leaf that hit the ground all the memories of my pitching in my early stages when I was younger. They were so easy and there was no pressure. The biggest thing of all back then was I had no time limit. I feared I was never going to make myself a high school pitcher; it was out of reach. When we got in the car, my mom told me to not to be discouraged because, it will take time, the same thing she has been telling me for a while. For some reason I couldn’t believe her, but I wanted to, badly. I wanted to be the best pitcher Lawson has seen.
That week I worked the hardest I had in a long time. I wanted to go back to my pitching coach the following week and impress her with all I had accomplished. I wanted to overcome my obstacles. That week I buckled down and did everything I could think of to make me the best I could be. I would stand in front of my mirror, and do drills till I couldn’t get it wrong because if I could repeat it in the mirror I would be able to do it when I pitched outside. Then, after doing my drills at night, in front of my mirror, I would go out and pitch for an hour and a half to two hours.
The following Wednesday all my hard work I had put in the previous week would be tested in front of my pitching coach. Driving there every minute that went by was every minute closer to being able to show her all I had accomplished. But, at the same time, I had a nasty little voice inside my head saying ‘You’re gonna mess up.She’s gonna be disappointed in you’. Walking in the shed, I was suddenly skeptical on if this was going to be good or not. So every pitch I told myself ‘You got this, You have to believe you can do it. With every pitch, I got a little more confident and every bit of confidence I got made my pitching a little bit better. At the end of the lesson, I got to hear the most beautiful words.
“You’ve gotten a lot better in one week, a lot better than I expected!” my pitching coach encouraged with a smile. I was ecstatic!
I exceeded her expectations, and that made me feel so good. Now I wanted to exceed her expectations every time I had a lesson. I knew there were going to be bumps but I didn’t think it would come so soon.
The assignment that she gave me my following weeks would test my love for the game. Something that should have come easy to me and it had when I pitched before. These little things like flicking my wrists and pushing off the mound seemed impossible to do as hard as she wanted me to do it. All of this made me mad at myself for quitting and taking time off. All I wanted to do was go back in time and never quit. All this frustration made me lose my focus. So, the following week, I did not excel as much as I needed, to and I felt like I had let everyone down. I decided to get back in my rhythm of pitching every night. I did drills in the mirror and watched videos of me pitching to see what I was doing wrong and what I could do faster to make me a better pitcher. In doing this I became less and less frustrated with myself and my decision.
I needed more pitching time in real situations and the only way to do that was with games. So the finding of a team to play on started. I looked for teams that would suit me like if they were looking for a pitcher and were not to far away. I ended up going with a team out of Lawson. It was mainly made up from the 7th graders but did have some girls from my grade. But unfortunately the team didn’t last and I wasn’t doing very well in the games. When summer high school league games came along during the summer I was feeling up to it.
The first game, however, ended up different than I’d hoped for. I couldn’t get my velocity up to the speed I wanted. I was expecting to have the best speed, but when I was just equal, it made me question my drive to keep working with the intensity I had been.
On the way home, my mom proceeded to tell me everything that I did wrong. I listened for a while, but after a while I got frustrated and started to ignore her. I slowly felt myself get more and more frustrated not at anyone other than myself. It made me so perplexed on how I could do so well practicing but perform well in at a game. I stared out the window, watching the symbolic leaves fall again.
I started to think I would never be able to pitch at a high school level. Everyone’s expectations went up while my drive and push went down. I started to want to quit again.
“You’re not gonna quit again. You’ve made it so far, don’t quit now!” my mom pleaded.
“ I am never going to be good enough to pitch in high school!” I said with a smile slowly fading away. I meant it as a joke, but I started to believe in my own words.
That was my one goal, to not only be good enough to pitch in high school but to be the best. And I put in so much time that summer to achieve it, no matter what the cost. I knew being so focused on softball would make me lose a lot of my time with friends. It hurt to know about everyone hanging out and having fun but I would have to say, “Sorry, I can’t. I have pitching.” But I kept telling myself I was getting better at a sport I loved. It was a hard decision to make but I had to make it to achieve the goal I wanted. I wasn’t ready to give up.
In August, the first day of high school softball practice I walked in scared and nervous. But as practice went, on I told myself that I have to give it all I got and then I won’t be able to regret anything. So that is what I planned to do every single day at practice. But after a couple of practices, the motto I had made myself seemed to fade. So to stay confident and focused, I used the saying that my mom had been telling me forever.
“Be so good they don’t have a choice but to play you,” my mom’s voice said bouncing around in my head like a pinball.
The quote would soon show to help lots in the practices and games to come. By the end of that season, I had pitched in varsity games. There were ups and downs during the season but I had the time of my life being able to do the sport I loved with the amazing team I had that always supported me during my good and bad days. It gave me a certain feeling of being invincible when I could just go out and pitch my hardest with everyone behind me ready to back me up and support me.
However, the season came to an end very abruptly and more quickly than anyone wanted. When our team got together for one last time, that was the most memorable banquet ever. We all sat in the Lawson High School commons, listing to the two coach reminisces on our season. Then the time came to give those red and white L’s, the treasure of an athlete. When they called up my group and said we lettered, I couldn’t wait to hold the piece of treasured felt.
This journey has taught me many lessons and most I will hold on to forever.I will never give up on activities I love. There will be hills but “ life's a climb” as Miley Cyrus says, so I will enjoy the ride while I can. I still believe I can achieve my pitching goals and I’m lucky to have three more years to achieve the.