“Get up a little more speed with that pitch.” I always remember hearing this. In fact, it’s one of my earliest memories. My dad, being disappointed with the lack of a son, more specifically a son who could play baseball, was determined to coach me in the next best thing, softball. I played tee ball when I was four, and my dad had me taking pitching lessons at four too. He just knew I was going to be great.
I went out for the middle school girls’ softball team, and to no surprise, I made it. I pitched as many games as the coach would let me, and scored more runs than any other girl on the team. My dad was, of course at every game, cheering on his little girl that he so desperately wished was a boy and a baseball player. Even as a replacement child, I still made him happy though. I was always able to pick out, “Come on Madison! You got this!” every game, literally, EVERY GAME. It embarrassed me as a preteen, and it wasn’t until I got onto the Varsity team as a freshman in high school that I realized it was a good thing. I, the unwanted girl, was a subject of pride for him.
I continued on the path of softball all my high school career, and naturally, I had college scouts come to almost all of the games I played my senior year. I got into the University of Georgia in Athens on a full ride. I pitched as many games as rules would allow and even won the championship game in my junior year of college as a sports medicine major (finally a decision!).
My sophomore year, though, I went to the championship game….and didn’t win. I expected a viscous show of disapproval and disappointment from my dad, but it never came even though the game was lost because of me. Yes, it was my fault and to my utter shock, my dad still said, “I’m proud of you Madison. Good game, good game” just like he did every game I won. That was the moment I finally realized I hadn’t been such a disappointing girl to him after all. I had won more games than I’m sure he ever thought possible. I had gotten into college because of my playing ability, and made it into the championship at least. I was still a subject of pride to him.
Knowing all that, the following year, I ran more, trained harder, lifted more, practiced more, ate better. You name it, I did it if it would improve my chances, and sure enough, my team and I got into the state championship again, this time bringing it home.
Although, I always hated it at the time, I never realized how much softball meant to me. I always thought it was only important to my dad, but it wasn’t. I had grown to love it, and I had him to thank for it.