Don’t Give Up, Success is Around the Corner
She strolls out on the indoor ball field and turns to face the coach waiting for her on the other end of the field. He holds the bright yellow softball tightly in his hand. The other coaches line up armed with clipboards and pens ready to evaluate my daughter’s skills.
She takes a deep breath when she squats in the ready position, her eyes meet mine. I see the concern in her gaze as if she is pleading, “Am I good enough, Daddy?” I feel my body tense up, but I force myself to appear relaxed and give her a smile of encouragement. We break eye contact and she turns her full attention towards the coach as he winds up and tosses the ball towards her.
Ashley began her softball journey just a few short years ago at the local girls’ softball league in Smithville, Indiana. She’s come a long way over the past few years. She grew to truly enjoy the sport and decided to test the world of competitive, travel softball. It was a big jump from recreational softball.
It was a bumpy and frustrating transition for Ashely. She went from one hour practices a week to suddenly spending long nights under the hot, burning lights on the softball fields with stern correction and hard coaching. She spent hours in the batting cages, thousands or repetitions pitching the ball, and long Sunday’s training to get better.
Ashley became weary and her love for softball slowly slipped from her face as her smiles turned to frowns when she engaged week after week in endless practice sessions. I tried to keep her upbeat, but the weight of the travel softball experience became unbearable for her young shoulders. She began to question her abilities and her desire to continue.
Finally, one evening over dinner, Ashley asked me for permission to quit her team and to take a break. She scanned my expression and appeared small and fragile as I stared at her across the table. I wish I could say I was understanding, I was not. It was hard for me to mask my disappointment. “Ashley, you’ve worked so hard, don’t you want to see how this will play out?”
It was no use, she made her decision and it was hers to make. I had no choice, but to support her. Later that night, while I was reading in bed, I noticed Ashley standing at the door. Her posture was timid.
“Dad?” She whispered.
“Yes, honey, what is it?”
“Are you disappointed in me?” She inquired while avoiding eye contact.
“I’m disappointed, yes, but not in you. Come here.” I motioned for her to join me in bed. I hugged her when she strolled slowly to my bedside.
“There will be times I may be disappointed in your situation, Ashley, like tonight. However, I want you to remember one key thing. I LOVE YOU.” I touched her nose with my finger. “No matter what, I will always be on ‘Team Ashley’, got it?”
A smile broke across her face and she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me tight. We decided that she should go back to playing recreational softball for fun and explore other activities for now. I contacted her coach to let him know of Ashley’s decision. It wasn’t an easy call to make, but I made the call for Ashley.
A few days later, I received an e-mail from the Smithville Recreational Softball 12U League Commissioner. Ashley’s former team disbanded because the coach was not returning and there were not enough players returning to fill a complete roster. They needed Ashley to re-enter the draft and participate in tryouts in front of the other coaches so they could place her on a new team.
“No!” Ashley replied when I told her the news.
“Why?” I inquired, a bit surprised by her reaction.
“Because, maybe I’m just not good enough, Dad, and I will mess up the tryout.” I could see the tears in her eyes.
“Why would you say that?”
“Some of my friends at school said I quit softball because I was not good enough, maybe they’re right.” She looks up at me for approval. Somewhere during her experience she lost her confidence in her softball skills.
“Ashley, trust me you are more than good enough. Listen, you’ve practiced hard and you’ve practiced well. You will do fine, trust me.” Ashley agreed to participate in the tryouts after a long discussion and a lot of encouragement.
The night of the tryouts finally arrives. Twenty three girls show up tonight for the tryouts. Ashley is the 18th girl in line. It’s her turn to field a few balls. I watch as the softball flies out of the coach’s hand and then snap my eyes back towards Ashley to observe her reaction. Her body reacts instinctively as she moves effortlessly towards the ball, scoops it up, and hurls it back at the coach with such velocity that I could hear the snap of the ball slamming into his mitt. I feel the tension leave my body, she’s going to be fine. Her muscle memory from hours of practice, drills, and repetition take over and Ashley becomes a softball player once again in front of my eyes.
She trots back to her spot, trying hard to keep a game face, but a smirk appears on her face as she scoops up the next ground ball with increased confidence and snaps the ball back to the coach with speed and force. Ashley exceeds even my expectations as she proceeds to blow through her tryout with ease and grace. She did it! I smile when one of Ashley’s old teammates approaches her.
“Ashley, you did awesome tonight! You’ve improved so much this year, nice job!” Ashley’s stands tall and soaks in the praise as a few other girls come by and congratulate her on her performance. I stand back and soak in the moment with her.
Her pony tail flops back and forth in the cold night as we approach the car. She re-adjusts her backpack on her shoulder as she strolls around the passenger side door. There’s a bounce in her step and I sense the confidence in her expression when our eyes meet.
“Thanks, Dad, for encouraging me to tryout tonight.”
“I told you were good enough, right?”
“I know, I should have never doubted you or myself.” She giggles as she plops down into the passenger seat and throws her gear in the back seat.
She darts into the house to find her mother so she can recount the entire experience. I smile and head to the bedroom, satisfied that my daughter experienced a wonderful life lesson tonight.
You will eventually succeed if you don’t give up. Practice is hard, change is hard, life is hard, but if you don’t give up, success will find you. No matter where you are in life, and no matter what your past and others may tell you, you are GOOD ENOUGH, because you were made in God’s image and God does not make mistakes.
When it’s time for you to make a decision to quit or keep going, I implore you to keep going, because you never know, maybe success is much closer than you think. In the end, we only regret what we don’t do in life. Don’t live a life of regret and get back in the game. God has something magical waiting for you.