When I first heard that quote, it made me smile. But it wasn’t until years later that I fully appreciated what the Olympic great was talking about.
When I reflect on my eight years of participating in ASA softball, the memories turn black and white and thoughts of wins and losses dim. Games lost somehow become games won.
Thousands of ASA softball teams hit the road every summer weekend to play in a countless number of tournaments, hoping to make it to the national tournament. Regardless of how a team gets there, it always takes away a little bit more than the just the highs and lows of competition.
I don’t think about all the hours of pitching practice, the high school dances I missed, the scars, the long nights playing in freezing conditions, and sleeping in stinky hotels. To me, ASA softball was more than a game — it gave me the chance to experience life outside of College Station. Not only did I get to play in premier athletic complexes all over Texas, Colorado and Georgia, I also explored cities I wouldn’t normally put on my vacation list and interacted with girls from all over the country.
All those great memories are flooding back as I watch 45 teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana compete in the ASA Girls Fast Pitch 14 & Under Southern Nationals this week in College Station. But if you think the competition stops once you leave the field, you are mistaken.
Trading pins are as unique as the teams they reflect. Most pins highlight a team’s name, hometown, colors, mascot, etc. Some teams even create pins with flashing lights, songs and twirling apparatuses. If your pin isn’t impressive, don’t expect to get a fancy one in return. In my pin collection (pictured at right), I see more than a bunch of shiny things pinned to a hotel towel — I see unique keepsakes of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met.
As you move about town this weekend, you’ll likely run in to groups of overly excited girls who might make your commute or dinner wait a little longer. Just remember that these teens are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event, and as the host city, we should be quick to offer them a friendly “howdy!”
In the coming years, the wins and losses they experience here will fade and their trophies will gather dust, but these kids will remember their visit to College Station for the rest of their lives.
- ASA Girls 14 & Under “A” Southern Nationals
- Blog: What says “softball” better than drenching the mayor pro tem?