Between corn fields and windmills on a long stretch of wide open Highway I-90 West, chugged along our red rental mini-van. When I tell people I went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota the summer before my senior year, I get the usual puzzled stares and peculiar looks. However, not many teenagers can say that the pinnacle of their vacation was a trip to South Dakota. Summer isn’t about the exotic trips or the extravagant cruises; it’s about pursuing something you love. This past summer I was fortunate enough to have qualified with my team for the 16 and Under ASA/USA Fastpitch Softball National Championships. We stayed in the Sioux Falls Holiday Inn Express and visited places such as the Falls of the Big Sioux River and the Sioux Falls Stadium in our free time (see pictures and links below). Over 170 teams competed in front of nearly 100 college coaches in a week long softball event.
I have been playing fastpitch softball for ten years. I have given up hundreds of weekends, birthday parties and vacations all for the game I am so passionate about. Why should my high school summers be any different? Since the summer of 2007, I sacrificed attending my summer camp, which I had been attending for eight years prior, to play summer ball. This past summer, instead of going to Hilton Head with my family or Seaside with my friends, I was buried deep in the rural countryside of the Mount Rushmore State.
In about a decade of softball I have learned more than I have learned in school. I’ve learned how to throw, how to catch, how to hit and how to pitch. But the lessons from the field penetrate much deeper. This sport has taught me how to be a team player. The slogan “there’s no I in team” actually means something to me. A team wins together and loses together. It takes a group of twelve or thirteen girls to make everything function properly. Growing up cheering on teammates has taught me to offer support on and off the field. By acting as a team player and practicing ever present encouragement, I have formed close friendships that will no doubt last a lifetime.
Possibly the most important aspect of travel softball is dedication. I have sacrificed everything to play the game I love. This season presented my team with many obstacles. From clashing personalities to tough competition, we were challenged to overcome the adversity. My persistence and hard work during both practices and games, led me and my team to impressive accomplishments this season.
This summer was the culmination of the last ten years with hopefully more to come. I played in over six states, including cities in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and lastly, South Dakota. My family has put forth a great deal of time and money to help me improve my skills. No, my team didn’t win the National Championship and we weren’t offered Division 1 scholarships on the spot, but we participated in the experience of a lifetime. Days, weeks, months, and years of perseverance have finally begun to pay off. Through the sweat, the blood, and the tears, I am a better player and a better person.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.