Looking back on old pictures from my collegiate softball days is bittersweet. On one hand, I miss the rush of the game, the teammates, the smell of dirt, the excitement I’d get walking out to the mound. On the other hand, I’m enjoying the relaxing weekends, the free time, and the ability to workout as much as whenever I want to without the uncomfortable pull of my hip flexor or just feeling like I never have enough time.
Today I came across and old picture of me in my uniform, a selfie of course. I was tempted to delete it…I mean, what’s the point of hanging on to an old selfie from the glory days?
But I just couldn’t. Looking at that picture reminded me of mornings getting up at 6AM and loading myself onto a packed bus, girls squeezed like little grapes on a vine, all bunched together. It reminded me of the smells–Twizzlers, oranges peeled on the bench between games, dirt, sweat, peanut butter crackers for a pre-pitching snack, my stinky cleats. Or of being so incredibly tired that I’d wrap my smelly body in my duck blanket and just fall asleep to the humming of the bus motor. It reminded me of 5:30AM lifting, practice in the bitter cold of late fall, the way the softball seams felt against my fingertips. It reminded me of the tears I cried on bus rides home, the tears I tried to hide behind sunglasses. It reminded me of hip injuries, of fear, of failure. It reminded me of waking up in hotel rooms, my arm aching with soreness from yesterday’s game. It reminded me of friends, of screaming with joy at winning games, of holding hands and praying together before the National Anthem, of success, of strength.
That selfie represented so many parts of who I was and who I had become.
I set the picture back into the pile of photos and smile. There’s something about being an athlete that will always stay with you. No matter how far you wander from the game, you’ll always have a place in your heart for those late nights, long weekends, and early mornings. You can always reminisce, always look back and smile, and always appreciate those uniform selfies.