“Dad, I want to be a pitcher.”
I remember telling my dad that line after my team and I suffered a brutal loss towards the end of the season. It was my first year at fast-pitch softball, I was a 12 year old playing catcher, and I wanted a new position. The team needed a relief pitcher to back up our one and only hurler during long slug fests like the one I had experienced that day.
My dad, without any hesitation, did everything in his power to coach and inspire me to become a successful fast-pitch pitcher. He started out with some drills and things I’m positive he thought up himself to get me started until we found a pitching coach. His dedication to guide me in any way was apparent from the very beginning. While I received lessons from former college pitchers and a well known pitching coach near my hometown, the one thing that was consistent was my dad.
We’d pitch almost every night after school. In the heat of the summer and into the bone chilling temperature of the winter you’d find us on some field, in the back yard, or in the school parking lot throwing. It was during these times that I learned about life, believing in myself, hard work, perseverance, and dedication. He’d drive me to practice, even after I received my drivers license. He remembered my stats as if they were published on the back of a baseball card every season. He was my biggest fan and my toughest umpire.
Flash forward almost 25 years and here I am giving pitching lessons to my second cousin who started getting lessons from me three years ago when she was 12 years old. At that time her attention span wore thin rather quickly and I never really thought that what I was doing was substantially impacting her life until one night at lessons when she brought with her a speech she wrote – one she had written about me.
The assignment was to write about someone, living or deceased that inspires you and she chose me. Of all the people in the world – she chose me. She wrote about how I inspire her at lessons and that she wants to follow in my pitching footsteps when she gets older. It was a huge compliment and really helped put into perspective just how much you can impact another person’s life; and in a way, help shape who they are as a person.
Being a fast-pitch pitcher has taught me the best life lessons that must be experienced to get the full understanding. I hope that I continue to inspire my cousin each week, not just regarding sports but in life overall. I hope that when I have children of my own I can form a bond with them like I did with my dad. After all these years he still comes to my lessons. We pitch for old time sake before and after her lesson, reminisce about games from the past, and I continue learning those pitching life lessons.
©Megan Matos, October 2016
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