I wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve experienced during my daughter’s college and softball years.  Whether it was her car breaking down, family emergencies, health concerns, bad weather, etc., there will be things that come up during yours and your daughter’s journeys.  Here are some of the things that have been part of our journey.  

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Right Fielder Last Year

Transportation

My daughter finished her final exam of the fall semester on Thursday.  She planned to get up early and make the 15 hour drive home for the extended Christmas break.  When she started her car the next morning, the engine light came on and it was not running correctly.  

She called.  I had her take it to the dealer.  They told her they couldn’t get to it until Monday.  Luckily she still had a couple friends nearby who could help her out.  Her car is a 2012 Chevy with only 78,000 miles, but my mind ran wild as to what could be wrong with it.  It gave no symptoms of trouble prior to that morning.

At one point I considered flying her home if it might be an extended repair.  She just had to deal with being mostly alone and without transportation for a weekend.  Good news came Monday when we learned that there was no serious issue with the car.  It was a relatively inexpensive repair.

I told the service man, “That’s my baby.  She has to drive 15 hours up to Michigan.  I need you to be sure this is fixed.”  He assured me the problem was resolved and she would be safe.  She drove home through the night, walking in the door around 5am safe and sound.

There was another time she had car trouble.  While she got out of her car to get gas in Valdosta, she heard the noise of a tire leaking….not one tire…3 tires.  It was dark and she ran over what must have been number of nails in the road, as some of the tires had dozens sticking out of them.  The only tire place open on Sunday was Walmart, where luckily they had her tires in stock, as they could not be repaired.

Family

My daughter was recruited by a coach she never got to play for.  A couple weeks after she graduated high school and after orientation, he took the head coaching job at Arizona State.  She was devastated, but that’s a very long story for another day.  She had arranged to come home from school with him, missing softball, over the Labor Day weekend for her aunt’s wedding.  

We have a pretty small family, so this was not a long lost aunt.  To put it nicely, the new coach lacked tremendously in people skills.  After much drama, she allowed my daughter to come home for the wedding.  This dilemma would be the beginning of two challenging years in that coach’s program.  It ultimately led her to transferring from Ball State to Valdosta State, a move that she is extremely happy with.

In mid October this Fall, her uncle died unexpectedly at the age of 42.  She was getting into her car after a 4 hour softball practice as I gave her the news.  They were close as were my other two daughters.  After the funeral arrangements were made I booked a flight for her.

I contacted her coach, who was very understanding and helpful, letting me know she could take as much time as she needed.  She missed a couple of Fall ball games and a few days of school.  While most of her professors were sympathetic, one was not.  I did not have to get involved however, because her coach promptly took care of him.

Sickness

I remember during the recruiting process asking parents, coaches and college players, “What happens if my baby gets sick?”  They have procedures in place, which begins with notifying the coach or their team trainer.  They typically have an on-campus clinic to go to first.  Then if need be, they go off-campus.  

It’s a terrible feeling when your daughter calls you at 10pm saying she has a 103 fever and can’t stop vomiting.  This happened twice.  The first time in the Winter of her Freshman year, she followed the protocols, but her mother was worried.  It was a Saturday morning and a winter storm was brewing in the Mid-West.  Her mother asked me to drive her down there, because she doesn’t like driving in snow storms.  

Sigh.  That was the longest white-knuckle drive!  But, her mother nursed her back to health, which put both of their minds at ease.  The following year the team was in the middle of their spring break games when she got the bug that was spreading through the team.  We were already in the same hotel as the team, so her mother got to care for her there too.

 Injuries

She’s been fortunate over the years, never having an injury that prevented her from playing.  That ended in her Sophomore year at BSU.  I was at home one evening listening to her game on the radio broadcast.  She was having a great game.  Then, on a ground ball she hit to the short stop, the throw carried the first baseman into the baseline.  There was a nasty collision, which resulted in a shoulder injury.

In time I learned that the injury would not require surgery, but it knocked her out for a few weeks.  But, during the game all I knew was that she did not return to the field.  I finally got her on the phone that night.  She was in a lot of pain, but they wouldn’t be able to get her to the doctor to check it until they returned to BSU in two days.  Luckily, all she needed was rest and rehab.

 Bad Weather

As a parent you monitor the weather wherever your baby is living.  At BSU there were a couple of snow and ice storms and tornado watches/warnings.  That was a 4 hour drive away from home.  Since they do not have many opportunities to drive home for the weekends, the snow/ice storms were not such a big deal.  And they had places to go for tornadoes if need be.

At Valdosta she was affected by the last 2 hurricanes.  The first came out of the Gulf and the eye went right over them.  VSU is about an hour from where it made landfall, so the damage was lessened.  They shut down the college and much of the town before it hit.  There were numerous downed trees and power lines and flooding.  The last storm just missed them only resulting in moderate rains.

The thing about hurricanes is that they’re in the news for an entire week before they hit.  Each day you watch the weather with the projected tracks it could take.  The closer it gets to land the more anxiety you feel when there’s nothing you can do for your baby.

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 Attending Games

Well it sure is different attending games when you are not responsible for getting her there hours early, making sure she has all her stuff and drinks, etc.  You just show up, smile and enjoy the game.  The hard part is getting the time off work or away from your business, traveling and paying for it all.  

Where your daughter goes to school makes a big difference in the amount of travel you do, the time off you take and cost.  Warm weather schools play a lot of home games.  Cold weather schools go down South to play the first half of their seasons.  It adds up, so start saving now.  

One of the strangest feelings was the first games I had ever missed.  They’re not always on Game Tracker, radio broadcast or streaming video/TV, so knowing that she was playing and I wasn’t watching was weird.  Some schools do an awesome job making the games available in some form for those far away.  

Last year the majority of my baby’s games were streamed live with knowledgable commentators.  Only a few were by radio or Game Tracker only.  Either way, I am fortunate to have my own office at my day job where I can shut the door….and multitask LOL.  When the schedule comes out each year, I plan what games I will make the trip to.  But, it is nice knowing that I can still catch the action if I can’t make it down.  

 Other Issues

Money.  They always need more….lol.  I would suggest to all parents who are sending their daughters far away to college to open a local banking account.  My daughter’s debit card gets automatically flagged, being used in Georgia.  She’s called the bank, but the bank’s computers shut it down automatically.  They told her to just withdraw cash, not to use the card for point of purchase sales.  You might also consider getting them an emergency credit card.

Financial aid, scholarships and student loans.  I could write an entire book about the frustrations I’ve had dealing with these issues.  From the financial aid application process, which is required, to the timing of when funds are deposited, which is not before the classes begin each semester.  This will just be something you’ll have to learn about and endure when your time comes.  The process seems to change every year.  It’s just a pain in the rear!

Roommates, relationships and parties are areas I don’t have any stories about (thankfully).  I’ve heard other parents talk about their daughter’s issues though.  My daughter has been very fortunate in these areas.  As a father however, I am on a need to know basis.  So I’ll assume at this point I have not needed to know anything…….and I am fine with that.

Academics are challenging for athletes at times.  Much of this depends on the level of softball and their scheduling.  For example, at BSU they often missed 2-3 days of school weekly.  And if your daughter is unable to study/read on a bus without getting car sick (like mine), they might have to do something like stay up all night before big trips, then sleep on the bus.  

Sometimes they don’t get back to campus until early Monday morning, but are expected to be in class.  At VSU she typically only misses Fridays and occasional week day afternoons, which makes it easier to manage.  And each year their classes can become more demanding and difficult as they approach graduation.

 Drivers License - It’s Funny Now

My daughter drove with an expired license for a couple months.  Her 21st birthday was in September and Michigan requires you to renew your license in person for this occasion.  With softball and studying every weekend, I wasn’t about to have her drive 30 hours or fly her home to renew her license.  She would have to wait until Christmas break.

Of course she got pulled over one night for a tail light that was out, which resulted in a warning and $125 ticket.  She explained her situation, that she couldn’t go home, which got her no sympathy, “You should park the car until you get your license renewed.”  They also advised her not to get pulled over in Georgia again before she renewed her license.  

Now that she’s home she is legal again.  SMH.

 Smile and Enjoy the Journey

These are some of the things that have been part of my daughter’s and my experiences.  She was a good kid before she went away to college and she still is.  I worry at times, but she tells me to chill.  I guess it’s just something we parents will always do.  

She is home now for the holidays, making rounds visiting family and friends.  When she returns to Valdosta she will not be allowed home until their season ends.  I cannot believe she is a senior or that this will be her final season of softball.  Others have told me, “It goes by so fast.  Enjoy every moment you can.”  Man were they right!

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