Out of all the sports out there, out of all the hobbies, out of all the ways to spend an entire weekend, we choose to play softball. We choose a sport where we get dirty and sweaty, bloody and bruised, injured and angry. We choose to spend hours at practice or in the batting cage or at team bonding rather than going out with friends who actually have lives. We choose to add the difficulty of balancing sport with school. We choose this. No one else has told us to do this. So why, despite all this suffering, do we play? It's simple: because we love it. We love the days when we leave the field covered in dirt after diving after grounders. We love the stories behind our bruises and scars. We love the feeling of getting that meaningful hit after struggling through a slump. And we love our teammates who become like family.
I've been playing this game literally as long as I can remember. It's a part of me. Has it always been easy? Of course not. There have been multiple times when I thought I was finished, when I thought I was ready to hang up my cleats and my glove and never play again. But then I'd drive by a field. No one would even be out there, but I would still see a game being played. I'd hear a crowd full of excited softball moms and dads who think they know more than the coach. I'd smell the freshly cut grass and the concession stand grill. And I'd know I can't give it up. Despite my knees and shoulder feeling ages older than they really are, despite my exhaustion after years of being constantly at the field, I'd know that it is where I belong until the day I can no longer stand and hold a bat or catch a grounder. Because a true softball player will never lose the love for the game. But more than that, we'll never lose the love we have for all the people who have been a part of the softball journey for us: our parents, coaches, bus drivers, fans, and most importantly, our teammates. We play for all these people, and we play for ourselves. We play for the love of the game.