Sitting on a paper-lined, blue examination table in a fluorescently lit orthopedists’ office was the last place that I wanted to be on a spring afternoon. My doctor, a family friend, spoke to my mother about my x-rays while I gazed at the various displays of photos and models on the walls. At six-foot-six, he towered over my five-foot-eight frame, although he was not intimidating. He asked me about college, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, dragging my attention back to the glowing photograph of my hip joint. I thought about if it would be possible to push through the pain of bone rubbing on bone while trying to ace a curveball.
As we walked through the parking lot and got into the car, I could feel my mother glaring at me. She knew how badly I wanted to play without any issues, but there was only so much that could be done.
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If I become more passionate about practicing, I could work my way back to the level that I once played at. This was just an obstacle that would pressure me into becoming a better athlete.
Playing softball always made me happy. The start of each new season brought a rush of stress and excitement, a love-hate relationship. I anticipated the days when the spring season started, brisk and sunny days out on the field. The first day of tryouts came whether I liked it or not. The snow that had piled up over the winter was far from melting off of the field. The team despised tryouts in the gym. Not only did we have to share the gym with several other teams, but we also had to complete our warm up outside.
“How about a few sets of arena laps?” shouted the varsity coach. We filed out of the gym’s double doors and began running. We trotted down the hill, encircled the arena, and then reached the bottom of the stairs. The one thing I wanted to avoid was right in front of me. I didn’t want to show the coaches that I couldn’t handle a little pain on the very first day. The combination of the blistering March air and the pain surging through my hip was more than I could handle. When we got back inside, we began the rest of our warm up.
“Line up!” The sighs echoed throughout the gym as we stepped onto the black line with our slippery sneakers. We commenced our conditioning with lunges, squats, twists, and planks followed by a set of stretches. Before we had even taken out our gloves and grabbed a ball, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. This week of tryouts taught me to never take any day that I can play softball for granted, because one day I won’t be able to play at all.