Posted by Ken Krause
Last weekend once I was done with lessons I went out to watch a tournament where some of my students were playing. It was a gorgeous day for softball and I had plenty of time, so clearly life was good that day!
I arrived in the middle of a game where one of my students, Ally, was pitching, and she did a masterful job. Which, of course, always makes it fun to watch. I also enjoyed watching a couple of other students, Abby and Kylie, during the game as well.
During that game, though, one of the parents mentioned that another student, Maddy, had been pitching in a game earlier and had taken a hard line drive to her right shin. I learned later she’d thrown roughly two or three pitches, got hit, and had to come out of the game it hurt so bad. (Good incentive, by the way, to keep the ball off the middle of the plate.)
Once that game concluded with a win, the next game started up (after some time to re-set the field). Maddy came out to pitch that game, which I was glad to see. It’s not often I get to see two students pitch the same day.
Maddy struggled a bit in the first inning, and her team struggled to field the onslaught of bunts their opponents unleashed on them early-on. They ended up down 6-0 before they ever got a chance to hit.
After that rough start, however, Maddy took control, didn’t give up any more runs, and ended up with 7 Ks over 5 innings as I recall. Gotta love time limits.
While she was pitching, however, I did mention that she looked a bit uncomfortable physically. Nothing major, but if you were paying attention you could see something was not quite right.
After the game (which her team ended up losing, eliminating them) I stuck around to talk to her a bit afterward. That’s when I saw what she had just accomplish.
The poor girl couldn’t put much weight on her right foot. She was limping pretty badly too. What I saw as “kind of uncomfortable” actually turned out to be pretty painful. I actually asked if she needed me to carry her to the car but she just laughed and said no.
That’s how you get a reputation as a warrior, though. It had to be incredibly painful, especially as the game wore on. She also had to be at least a little worried about having it hit again too. I know I would’ve been.
But she just gritted her teeth, said “The team needs me” and gutted it out.
I’m not big on players playing on injuries where they can make things worse. If you sprain your ankle, or pull a muscle, or get a concussion, or do something else that would make it dangerous to your health to continue, don’t.
Sometimes, though, it’s not dangerous, just painful. If you can “rub some dirt on it” as we used to say and fight your way through it, you clearly have ample helpings of mental toughness. And that’s going to serve you well not just in softball, but throughout your life.
And sometimes, parents can be a little quick to try to keep their daughters from experiencing adversity. Luckily, Maddy’s parents aren’t, and gave her the opportunity to show what she can do.
Congrats, Maddy, on a job well done!
Update: Thought I would share this photo of Maddy’s leg from a week later. It reminds me of a saying I saw on a t-shirt once: scars are tattoos with better stories. Although I expect this one will heal eventually. Still, you could see the knot through her sock. It should probably come with one of those disclaimers they have before TV shows about not being appropriate for younger or more sensitive viewers!