Showing my gratitude

The sport that changed my life


Photo courtesy of Anya Azara

Anya Azara, guest columnist

I started playing travel softball when I was seven years old. Even before that, I played t-ball and park district softball. When you have played the same sport for most of your life, you experience all the sport has to offer: the good and the bad, the highs and lows. You also experience doubt, which can be a bit terrifying. Sometimes, you step back and ask yourself, “Is this really where I am supposed to be?” 

Now, this thought rattles you. To question something you have put your heart, soul, and tears into feels like you are questioning what makes you, you. However, I can tell you that there is a hand that can pull you right out of that hole. Sometimes, even an entire team of hands. While on South’s softball team, I have had many hands to reach out to. 

First are my coaches. Both on junior varsity (JV) and varsity, my coaches have been so supportive. Though they cheer me on and build me up, they also do something that is even more important: they push me to dig deep into myself and remember the reasons why I love softball. This is something that, as a player, is invaluable. When my coaches remind me to dig deep into my passion for softball, they reach out that hand and show me how I can become a better player and teammate. 

Next is my team. I have met some of the best people through South softball. My teammates are a huge part of why I am so passionate about the game. They pick me up, dust me off, and then dance around a bit to make me laugh. At South, something I have heard countless times is “we over me.” This phrase embodies the importance of a team and the relationship players have with each other. That relationship is what makes you a team. Not the name of who you play for or if the coaches picked you for JV or varsity, but the bond you share with them. 

So, the next time you start to question why you play the sport you do, I want you to remind yourself of that favorite bus ride, that feeling when you get something just right as a team, or that one joke that makes everyone laugh. Think about all that you have experienced as a team, no matter what it is, and hold on to that tight. That is why we put our hearts, souls, and tears into the sports we love. That is what makes you, well you.