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  • Cara Jimenez

Senior Year?

Today is Wednesday, April 8, 2020. My schedule would have been the following:

  • 7-8AM Team Lift

  • 8-11AM Team Practice

  • 11:20-12:50PM Class

  • 1-2PM Dog Walk 

  • 2:40-4:10 Class

That’s what it would have been. What about now? What does my schedule look like now on Wednesdays? This is what it is:

  • Wake up whenever

  • maybe go for a run?

  • maybe do an at-home workout?

  • maybe get ready for the day?

  • Be productive?

It’s hard to even write down what my Wednesdays (or really any day) are going to look like. I haven’t been able to grasp the news that my softball season is over. Not only that, it was my SENIOR year. My last year of playing softball. Ever. 

Why did it have to end? I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to one thing that has always been there for me all my life. I am not a dramatic person whatsoever but all the thoughts going through my head are “why did this happen to me” and “what am I going to do now?”. 

I am just lost without softball and with what the future is going to hold for me. 

How did this all happen? Well, let’s talk about it. 

We were headed to California on March 12. My team and I were so excited for this tournament. It was the one weekend out of all the preseason tournaments that was supposed to be warm. 

And with all that excitement to go and play, it was crushed and thrown out the window. 

I never got the chance to fly to California that weekend and play in the weather I so desperately wanted with the team that I love. And we knew the minute our coach was just “watching” us workout that morning that we weren’t traveling. Our coach typically never comes to our workouts and just watches us. 

After lifting, we were supposed to head down to the gym to get some hitting in but we were called to go to the conference room. Our Associate Athletic Director sat us down and said that we will not be traveling to California to play that weekend. 

The tournament already had restrictions prior to this meeting. Because of COVID-19, our tournament was going to restrict spectators to our games. That in itself was so crazy but we quickly got over it because it still meant we were going to play. But then it became more devastating news. We weren’t traveling to California AND our spring seasons was unknown

I didn’t know what was worse, them saying our spring season is unknown or the fact that it was said that our season is under debate. Either way, I didn’t know how/what to feel. 

Because of us not traveling that weekend, I needed groceries. My teammate and I went to the grocery store and even there I felt weird. It truly felt like people were stocking up on because the world was ending. I didn’t think what these people were doing made the situation better. Rather, they are putting too much worry on the COVID-19 situation. 

That’s what I thought about softball. I was putting too much worry into them canceling our spring season. There was no way they would. What is going on right now is only temporary. It can’t get worse.

Oh, how I was wrong. I was SO wrong. 

We got a text from our coach telling us that the Big East has cancelled all spring sports.



My friend and I were in the checkout line when we go the news. The way we looked at each other was as if we got a text that our best friend died. 

We cried in the checkout line together. 

I called my parents and sister and told them the news. They were in as much shock as I was. I told them what I was told and nothing more.

I couldn’t keep repeating the words “Softball is over for me. Our season is done and my senior year is over”. 

It’s been almost two weeks since my coach told us the news. And I am sitting in the “this isn’t real” mentality and I can’t get it to go away. COVID-19 is something I didn’t take seriously. I never thought I would be sitting in my house with my family on this day when I should be practicing and getting ready for our upcoming games.

I should be lifting.

I should be throwing the ball to first base. 

I should be hitting the ball. 

I should be making errors. 



I am still in disbelief that softball is over. I would be lying if I told you softball didn’t make me into who I am today. It has shaped me in so many ways and I don’t think I truly understood just how powerful the game was to me. 

I want to see the good in this. I want to not be selfish and believe that social distancing and isolation is what needs to happen in order for us to go back to normal. But what is normal? Normal for me was softball. I don’t have that anymore. I don’t get to pick up where I left off and get ready to play. 


I am being selfish. I really am. I don’t want to feel that because I know that I have to be strong. I have to understand that God has given me the opportunity to have the ability to play softball and to get to have played at DePaul.



I wasn’t even going to play college softball. I was going to go to a local college in my hometown.

I went through a rough time my junior and senior year of high school because I was lost in where I wanted to go to college. I was receiving offers from schools to play softball but nothing felt right. 

I was all set to attend my local college (and not play softball) in the fall when during my last summer season on my travel team, I was offered a scholarship to come play at DePaul University. I went on my official visit and everything felt right. The coaches, the athletic department, the campus, everything felt as though I needed to be here. 

I committed in July. That has to be the hardest thing I ever did. I decided so late to switch schools but it was because I still had aspirations of continuing to play the game I loved.

I was given this opportunity to go to college and get to still play the sport I love. I reflect on my freshman and sophomore year when I was still trying to figure everything out. Freshman year was me trying to balance softball, class, and overall the new way of life (being on campus and being independent). 



I remember my first practice as a sophomore, my coach told us that there is no more time being a freshman. I agreed with that statement 100%. We were now being a role model for the new freshman class and being a sophomore, we were in charge of helping and leading the freshman class. 

New year, new expectations and new roles. This meant on & off the field. 

As I got older, I began to invest and develop a new role on the team as well as off the field in my life. Through the research of Wiechman & William (1997), they revealed that as an athlete moves through the years and becomes an upperclassman, the investing of time/effort changes and the effort shifts into finding more about the individual and into non-sport career options. In other words, as we become to be juniors and seniors, we are becoming to understand that playing the sport is not the only most important thing in our lives.

In a different study that included in-depth interviews with 8 college students, Lally & Kerr (2005) found that these individuals entered college with poorly defined career goals and an emphasis on pursuing sport careers after college. But, as years went on, the individuals expressed that they were leaving college with a better understanding of their nonsport career objectives. 

For me, I did no fully understand any of this until my senior year. Prior to senior year and having 3 years under my belt, I had a narrow focus/dedication on the sport. I did average school work and made okay grades because during those years, I worked tirelessly on and off the field for the sport. I did not think of the “post-college” life

As my senior year went on, I began to find myself beyond the game of softball. I had to think about what my life will be after college. I had to begin to shift my priorities and begin to juggle my dual-role identity. It was not easy, but self-motivation and determination can go a long way for me because softball has taught me that.


But, there were times when I took what softball meant to me for granted. I didn’t see the good it brought me. I didn’t see how softball and being at DePaul has pushed me to be a better person. I didn’t see how much the relationships I made through the years have meant the world to me. I didn’t see how much I have grown up and became a more responsible adult. 

As a freshman, I looked at my identity as “a softball player pursing a college degree”. I was all about softball. My identity was softball because that is what got me to DePaul. But, as the years went on, I was able to find myself in more career related activities. In this, I thought less of my softball identity and more so on the “who am I? What will I do after college?”. 


I had to shift priorities. And what came with that came a shift in identity perception.

I began to look at my identity as “a student-athlete pursing a psychology degree”. I am not taking away or putting the notion on that I am forgetting softball completely. I COULD NEVER! 

I have grown to look at my identity with a less emphasis on softball. Softball is not my identity. Softball is what got me to DePaul to FIND my identity. To find what it is I love to do, what I am good at, and what skills I have learned through softball will only then transfer to my post college career. 

And what’s crazy about all of this? I wasn’t able to find my true self or truly grasp anything until softball was stripped away from me.

It was a bitter sweet moment in my life.

I wish that my season wasn’t over. I wish I could step out on that field one more time to play the game I love with the people I consider family. The saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” was something I truly never believed in. 



Oh, how the tables have turned. 

I am sitting here lost. But, I am sitting here lost on what I am going to do next. I have to understand that softball was always going to end at some point, it just ended without any notice. I have dealt with so much of hard triumphs and diversity that it’s almost as if softball has taught me how to handle not having the game in my life anymore.

I am working towards seeing this situation as a challenge for me. A challenge that I won’t step away from. 

Softball has given me more than I could have ever imagined and I am thankful that it has made me into the person I am today. I can’t say I am ready to close that chapter of my life but I am ready to start a new path with the person that softball has made me. 



References

Lally, P. S., & Kerr, G. A. (2005). The career planning, athletic identity, and student role

identity of intercollegiate student athletes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

76(3), 275-285. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2005.10599299

Wiechman, S. A., & Williams, J. (1997). Relation of athletic identity to injury and mood

disturbance. Journal of Sport Behavior, 20(2), 199-210. http://ezproxy.depaul.edu/login?

url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/215882883?accountid=10477

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