This is a follow up to the article, My Journey to Self-Confidence in Softball, written by 14 year old Jess Verran. Jess is an aspiring writer and dreams of playing college softball someday. After her first post back in April I challenged her to write about her experience on the Varsity team. It was a pleasant surprise to receive this article last week.
Her growing self-confidence and self-initiative has been fun for me to observe. As a coach who writes and talks about teaching life lessons through softball, Jess's articles speak volumes to this. I am very proud of Jess and hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.
What It Was Like Being a Freshman on Varsity
by Jessica Verran
Making the Team
As a freshman you can only hope to make it on the Varsity team. During tryouts I was hopeful my abilities would prove I deserved a spot. As I looked at the other players trying out, sizing them up, comparing myself – I grew more uncomfortable.
I train year round and knew I was up to the challenge, but would the coaches see potential in me? Would my dedication and efforts be enough? On the last day, when they began calling names, picking the varsity and junior varsity team members for the upcoming season, I was a bundle of nerves anxiously anticipating the outcome.
When they called my name and told me I made the Varsity team, relief and excitement filled my core. Seeing the faces and the reaction of some of the others who did not make the cut for the varsity team, I realized how fortunate I was.
Being a young freshman on a varsity team can be intimidating. We are assumed not to have the same skill level as an upper classman. However, playing with and against other more experienced players, sometimes up to four years older than me, challenged me.
Learning My Role
Having always pitched or played first base on my travel team, I have to admit I was a little frustrated when I was placed in right field. I shook off the disappointment and accepted the challenge of learning a new position. I was used to being in the midst of every play on the infield, so being in the grass took some time to adjust.
After playing that position I now realize that it helped me increase my speed and accuracy when making long distance throws. I am grateful for my experience in right field. Now I have one more position to add to my softball repertoire.
My next challenge was to help my team score some runs and win games. I pressed at the plate my first couple of times up trying to impress my coaches and teammates. I was hitting pretty well and getting some RBIs. However, the next couple weeks I fell into a slump. I couldn’t hit anything! I was embarrassed and worried about letting my teammates down.
Every time I struck out or grounded out, I feared it would affect my game play. With the help of my coaches and encouragement from my teammates, I began to feel more confident. The slump lasted about 2 weeks and after that I was back in the swing and helped drive in runs again. By the end of the season, I led my team in doubles and RBIs.
Leadership of Our Senior Captains
Our team was very young with 5 freshmen. This proved to be a mountainous obstacle in the beginning of the season as we got to know each other. We had two senior captains, who were one of the main reasons why my season was so enjoyable. They acted as mentors to the five of us “freshmen” teaching us how to be leaders on and off the field. They guided us through the season and never got upset when we made our “freshman mistakes”.
I remember one of my captains telling me after I struck out and was visibly upset in the dugout, “You are only a freshman, you will face many more pitches and opportunities, don’t dwell on your last at-bat.” They both encouraged all of us to “get ‘em next time,” when we struck out or missed a play.
Most of all they gave us the experience of being on a team that stuck together and pushed each other to play hard and do our best every game. With their inspiration and encouragement we were able to end the season winning 14 of our final 17 games. We were no longer just teammates- but sisters. I am grateful for that.
I looked up to the upperclassman. How they carried themselves on and off the field gave me the inspiration and motivation to want to be just like them. I hope to someday become as great of a leader and mentor as our captains were.
My Varsity teammates are not only talented ball players; they are genuine, sincere, intelligent, dedicated girls whom I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know and play ball with.