Since my oldest daughter, Cristi, was 8, she has been in love with softball.
She played all the way through elementary school, middle and high school, and four years of college. Two years ago, she played her last college softball game, taking off her catcher's gear and hanging up her bat for the last time, which was rather hot after going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs.
The lessons learned and character developed throughout 14 years have helped shape Cristi into the person she is today. Unfair coaching, prickly teammates, fights for her position, splinters from sitting the bench on certain teams, learning to lead from behind her catcher's mask -- through all of these she's learned persistence and has developed a fighting spirit that has made her a strong person.
Yes, the catcher's mask, mitt, shin, and chest guards, the batter's helmet, and the bat were put away --although she hopes to coach --for good. But the character she has developed is here to stay. I couldn't be prouder of the strong woman she has become.
Today, you see your child hit balls, kick goals, catch touchdown passes, wrestle, swim laps, sink lay-ups--today you see him struggle, fight, get discouraged, sometimes win, and sometimes lose. Tomorrow, what will you see?
A person who only lived for the game, the win, the score, the glory and never really understood the meaning of teamwork and selfishness and sacrifice? Or a person who has grown strong in character because of the life-lessons she learned in sports?