A year ago the 2013 Mid American Conference (MAC) regular season champion Ball State softball team received their rings at halftime of the homecoming football game. My daughter and her freshman teammates stood by and watched, since they were not members of the 2013 team. I was not able to attend the team tailgate/cookout/ceremony, but she sent me a picture of her and a teammate with her ring. She said, "I want one of those."
Fast Forward One Year
The 2014 team won the regular season MAC championship again. I made the trip this year for the celebration. Families were allowed to walk out on the sidelines to get pictures, so I snapped a couple with my old trusty iPhone. Every player on the team had huge smiles on their faces as they admired their new Superbowl-like bling. This year's freshman were checking their teammates rings out afterwards and one said, "I want one of those."
Although these girls were clearly enamored by their new rings, it isn't why they play. Through their lives the medals, ribbons, plaques, trophies and other awards they amass are simply the icing on the cake. Most of which are collecting dust or are packed away somewhere. They play the game, because they're good at it, love the game and for the competition. It's really that simple.
Living in the Moment
When they're young and still playing ball they're not thinking about the end, nor are they looking back. They're living in the moment. Only when their playing days are over will they look back. And when they do they'll dust off those awards, browse through the photos and read the articles and stats. It's like an old friend said to me a few years back, "I had no idea my name was still up there in the record books."
These girls will surely look back some day and draw strength from their past achievements. It will help them with their careers, families and obstacles they will certainly encounter in their lives. Many years from now they'll look at their rings, slip them on their fingers and think. They'll recall the memories not only of practices, workouts, coaches and games, but from friendships, classes, professors and hanging out.
The Journey, The Journey, The Journey
You see, it won't be about the rings and other things they collect during their lives. It will be about the memories of how they earned them. It will be about their experiences along the way. It will be about their journeys; their Softball Journeys.