Beginning of the end

Maddie Neigenfind, Features Editor

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Neigenfind smiles for a group picture with her team before the beginning of the season. Neigenfind has been playing softball since she was a little girl and has been apart of the Maize softball team for three years.

As I slam my hand against the squealing alarm clock, desperate for just five more minutes. I peek through my sleep coated eyelids and watch the clock flash “5:45 A.M.”. I let out a small groan and reluctantly pull myself from the warm sanctuary of my bed and head for my closet. Watching the hanger make loops around it’s shelf, I sleepily yank the jersey from it and dig through the pile of mismatched socks. After gathering all pieces of my uniform, I drag myself up the stairs, leaving evidence in the form of a red dirt trail. I throw my semi-clean uniform on the floor and head for the kitchen to indulge in my favorite part of any game day. A breakfast built for a champion.

It’s my freshman year, my first time being apart of the Maize softball team and my season has finally begun. Once I was awake, I could barely contain my excitement.

From the time I was a little girl, my home has been in the shape of diamond. The 6 A.M smell of a dew filled outfield, the smell of a freshly dragged infield and the warmth of the very first huddle of the day to break the fridge breeze of a February morning stole my heart and I have yet to break free. But it’s beginning to sink in that it’s almost time to open the lock and allow myself to grow outside of the sport that has given me so much comfort through 12 years of my life. I not only learned that stitch marks build character, a 5-6 hole calls for one hell of a dive, and no matter how many times my mother tells me to “rub some dirt on it” the sting will never go away. I also learned that dedication and drive will put you higher than excuses and laziness, a team is nothing without acceptance, love and a little bit of sarcasm and softball is more than just a sport so don’t play it. You must live it. You must pour a little bit of yourself into each play you make. You must leave a little piece of your heart on every field you play. You must leave your mark on every team you meet, every coach you play under and every girl that becomes a little bit more like a sister rather than a teammate.

Fast forward four years later and it’s my senior year. It’s beginning to sink in deeper and deeper the closer the new season approaches, it’s almost time to hang up my cleats for the final time. My last first everything is quickly approaching and if we’re being honest with each other, I’m not sure how to handle the bitter-sweetness of the whole situation. After dedicating 12 years of my life, thinking about going a whole spring and summer without hearing the soft crunch of the hard dirt beneath my feet or passing the time with a mean game of hacky sack makes me question if I’m making the right decision to turn in my glove. Although I’ve learned just about everything I know from the coaches who have watched me grow through the sport, all the girls who have supported me like I was apart of their family and from the sport itself and it’s ruthless way of using your weakness against you but never failing to make you feel like the toughest person on earth, I feel like I need to learn to grow in other areas of my life. Who knows if i’m making the right decision to turn in my glove or not, I guess we won’t know until the season is over but instead of keeping myself up with the sadness of leaving behind the biggest part of me…I plan to make my last season, my senior season, the best it can be.

Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get to put a ball on the walls of the dugout.

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