It seems like she just came home for the summer, but she'll be heading back to Ball State Thursday for her sophomore year.  The summer flew by with her last year of 18u travel softball keeping us busy with several 3-day weekends, open houses, her part-time job and evening workouts at the old ball field.  After she leaves I'll have to get used to the empty nest all over again, as will millions of other parents across the country.

She decides what she wants to work on, for how long or whether to take the day off.

Trunk of Softball Dad's Car

Back of my filthy Ford Escape: Bug spray, sunscreen, umbrellas, chairs, blankets, towels, first aid kit, lots of dirt and trash.  We pick up the home run balls after a workout to return the next time.

A few things will be different for her this year.  The coach expects her to compete for first base this season, they installed field turf in their outfield and made other facility renovations and there's a new assistant coach.  She will be sharing an apartment with two girls, a teammate and her field hockey roommate from the dorm last year.  They'll have to shop for groceries, cook their own meals and drive to classes.  That should be interesting.

She'll also know exactly what's in store for her academically and physically. She'll only miss a few classes in the fall, while in the spring she'll miss about 1/4 of their classes due to the extensive travel.  The fall is much harder physically with the team working extra on strength and conditioning, while during the season they go into maintenance mode.  She's also been working out this summer to prepare for it, especially during the last few weeks.

She's also asked me to help her prepare for first base.  We go to the field and I hit hundreds of ground balls and line drives at her, then pitch front toss batting practice for another hour.  I don't coach.  She tells me what she wants to work on and often to hit the ball harder or to pitch faster.  Sometimes she wants to work on diving or backhands.  Sometimes wants to work on hitting certain locations or for me to keep mixing it up. She decides what she wants to work on, for how long or whether to take the day off.

She will make the 4 hour trip and move herself in this year.

Off the field her focus this year will be on academics in her major (Finance), making connections and setting up an internship and/or summer work.  It is my hope that she's able to take advantage of the university's resources to find a position in her field of study.  After all, that's what college is all about.  It's icing on the cake for those who are fortunate enough to participate in college athletics.  And although there is a small professional league for fastpitch softball players, it is not a career, but more of a resume enhancement for a future in coaching or training.

So this week will include a couple more workouts, shopping for things she'll need at the apartment and spending time with family and friends before she heads back to school.  She will make the 4 hour trip and move herself in this year.  Although I'm sure her mother will drive down with miscellaneous items, take her shopping and stay with her during the weekend (no hotels needed this year).  It may be the third week of September before I see her next, which is the beginning of the brief fall softball season.  I'll stay busy with my day job, doing web site work to save money for travel expenses in the spring, coaching softball and of course writing. 

And each of our softball journey's will continue in their own special ways...