Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sharing is Caring

Hello Everyone!

It's been a very long time since I have posted but after some inspiring words sent to me today, it's time to break my blog-less streak! And since it's been a loooong time, please bear with me because it's probably going to be a long one! But, before I get too far into writing, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to ring in the new year while counting your blessings and being thankful for everything you have in your life and the people that surround you with love each and every day.

By now, most of the team is off on Christmas break, at home with their families and friends and will be there until classes start on January 23rd. Some of us however, choose to stay in Eau Claire over break and work, or just plain relax away from our parents ;) Whichever we choose, the four weeks off will definitely be enjoyed and will definitely be necessary for us to be recharged and ready for the season to start in the spring.

A few of us got a glimpse of the spring and what it's like to practice in the gym when we hosted our annual holiday clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. It was a success again this year and we were fortunate enough to be joined by Coach Walter, the head coach at St. Scholastica, Coach Wammer, Head coach at Northland, Coach Schneider, assistant coach for the Wisconsin Badgers as well as St. Scholastica's pitching coach Rilee Dawson, and former EC coaches Tim Husted and Rachael Click. Add in Coach, Robin, Amber and a few of us Blugold players, and there was PLENTY of knowledge to be shared.

This clinic is much different than the others that we run at Eau Claire. It is a much more detailed and skilled camp for high school aged athletes. There were focuses on hitting, pitching, primary and secondary position play, video analysis, the mental aspect of the game, thinking positively and even a conditioning session. We also ran stations for high school and travel ball coaches on different aspects of the game such as recruiting, building a line up, and pitch calling to name a few. It's an intense camp geared toward preparing young women for stellar high school careers and hopefully, future college careers as well.

In the past, there haven't been many Blugold players that help with the Holiday clinic but this year, we were fortunate to have 10 of us players attend. You would think that with the coaching staff already there, you wouldn't really need us players too. But the email that I received today proved otherwise.

Coach forwarded me an email today from a mother whose two daughters have been coming to our clinics for years. They've been to the holiday clinic before and I swear, they have more Blugold softball t-shirts than I do! And even with their familiarity of how we do things, this year's holiday clinic stood out to them. This is what she wrote to us (I've removed their names just in case they didn't want them public)

"This is truly the first camp [they] came out of smiling ear to ear, did not want to kill their sister, and could just not stop talking about all [they] learned . They could not stop talking about how wonderful everyone was and just what great instruction they felt they got from all of you! I don't care what anyone says, when older girls take the time to connect with younger girls on sports, techniques, and the mental game -- something wonderful happens and you definitely "turned it on" with my girls.

The mom went on to explain how their girls stood up in the middle of the restaurant and demonstrated what they learned during the hitting portion and how they related to the discussions on positive self talk and reaching your potential. Lastly, she thanked us for the priceless hours spent with them and for sharing our time and talents with her girls.

I've worked the holiday camp in the past, so I knew going into it that it's a rewarding but exhausting two days. And to be honest, waking up at 5:15am on December 27th and leaving my family Christmas to go work a softball clinic, wasn't the most ideal of situations. But it's emails and kind words like this that make everything all worth it to me once again, and even make me think about a coaching career.

Every Blugold player will tell you that once we have completed the last clinic of the year in the spring, we each do our own little happy dance (and I'd bet money that Coach and Robin do one too). But when you get kids like these two girls (and several others at the holiday camp) that truly want to learn and want to make a connection with us players, you can't help but smile and LOVE the fact that you got to opportunity to influence players who might just be in your shoes in a couple years.

And it wasn't just these two girls who enjoyed their time. I had the PRIVILEGE of running (no pun intended) the conditioning station of clinic. It was so great to see all the girls push themselves physically and more importantly, mentally, and actually having fun facing the challenges that I gave them. I also go to run the "player question and answer" session with Ashley Meinen and if I learned one thing, it was NOT hard at all for us to brag about our program and what a privilege we have here at UWEC.

I emphasized the word privilege because it's a word we use a lot on our team and we relayed that word and its relevance at the clinic. Playing softball, no matter at what age or at what level is a privilege, not a right and we all need to remember that each time we pick up the bat and ball. I hope I got that message across when I was answering questions from the girls because it is honestly such a privilege playing for my coaches and along side my teammates each and every day. And even more so, it is a privilege to be able to inspire young softball players like the two girls mentioned above and pass on the love I have for this incredible game. It warms my heart knowing that my dedication to the game influences those around me and makes them better softball players and hopefully, better people. And, it's even more special that they were willing to share their experiences with us and let us know that they appreciated our time that we spend with them.

Since it is the season of giving, hearing those words was really one of the best gifts I received this year and it's thoughtful things like this that I usually take for granted. There are so many times where I am very thankful and appreciative of people and what they have done for me, but I often don't take the time to tell them. And, after having spent part of my Christmas break at a wake and funeral, you never know how much time is left for you to say the things that you should. So thanks to the two girls, and the mother above, I have made part of my new years resolution to do a better job of telling the people in my life how much they mean to me, and doing it more often. It's such a great feeling when it happens to me and I need to continue to pass on that gift to others.

Until Next Time,

Em #20

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