Sorry for the verrry long post. It took us all a long time to get to this point, so I thought it was worth sharing fwiw.
This is about my DDís softball journey. Hopefully sharing what weíve learned will help someone else, albeit sooner and with less stress on your relationships.
DDís loved club softball from 10U-14U, doing all the fun things girls do in travel ball at that age. She also loved going to the camps where college coaches would instruct. When she moved up from 14U's, she said she wanted to play in college. After all, all her teammates were moving to the showcase teams so this was the logical next step. She says itís what she wants to do.
Her first season in showcase two falls ago, she moved to an org that has all college coaches and gets the exposure with the colleges sheís most interested in. It's showcase level, so now there are letters to write, college research to do, showcase tourneys to play (which are very different), along with new teammates from all over the region. Itís no longer about playing on weekends with your close friends from 12U, but she gets that. She understands the goal of playing in college and what it takes. She says itís what she wants to do.
Her first year of showcase, by all accounts is a success. She gets a lot of interest from the schools she likes and even gets emails and noticed by coaches who were not on her list. But, something is missing. The joy has been replaced by something else. She doesnít know what or why, and canít put into words. But we all feel the stress. I tell her this is her journey and she needs to take control of it. She says itís what she wants to do.
I try to help her along because itís new territory dealing with colleges and coaches. I send various articles for her to read, some new work out ideas, some coachesí contact info, etc. Trying to encourage her so that sheíll start to get it and take more of the initiative. After nearly a year, sheís still not the one leading, always waiting to be asked. But sheís never been like that, with school or with softball. But still, she says itís what she wants to do.
This fall will be better. Two of her best teammates from her original club join her team. The spark and fun will be back. They have a great fall. DD plays really well. She goes to a couple recruiting camps and does well there too. But once fall is over, the work-outs stop. Stops hitting. Nothing. I ask if she is done. She says no. I ask her if she still wants to play in college and she says yes, so we let things go a while longer.
It goes 8 weeks without picking up a bat, asking to go to the cages, or writing a letter. We say she needs to make a decision and she says she still wants to play. We begin to have some heart to heart discussions about it. Sheís good at making pro/con lists and things really begin to become clearer. Sheís studying healthcare in college which will be rigorous. When asked what she thinks about playing in college, she doesnít think about the fun of playing at that level or of the friends sheíll make. She thinks of the stress and how hard it will be to juggle. No wonder sheís not enjoying the journey!
But to her, in her mind, no longer playing is quitting. Even though college softball no longer aligns with her personal feelings or goals, she didnít want to be a quitter. If she doesnít have softball, she said she wouldnít know who she is. This broke my heart. And Iím sure she thought weíd somehow be disappointed as well.
We had to ensure her that weíre proud of her no matter what. That if something is no longer right for you, or no longer aligns with your goals, itís ok to stop. Stopping allows you to try something new. But she had to make that decision. And continuing to do nothing wasnít fair to her, her coaches, or her family.
So she made the decision to stop playing showcase and called her coach to tell him. He was surprised (because she really is a good little ball player), but supportive. I have no doubt this was the hardest decision sheís made in her life. But with the weight lifted off her shoulders, sheís happier and much less stressed.
I guess what Iíve learned from all this is listen to your kids. Not their words, but their actions. Even though she would insist she wanted to play in college, her actions never fully aligned with that goal. Admittedly, I love watching her play and was hoping it would somehow eventually click. But in the end, it was not who she truly is.
Sheís now onto other things (and smiling a lot more). And thatís ok too!