One of the hardest things in this game is knowing as a coach where the line is between a player being hurt and a player being injured. The longer I’m around this game, and the more amazing young ladies I watch the harder it is for me to know the difference between her needing to come out of the game, and her being able to push forward. Just when I think I know the level to which they can ignore the pain, another player comes along and demonstrates to me that I still underestimate the ability for heart to go further in overcoming the pain that I had previously seen. This past weekend I watched one of the players that I work with frequently do something that raised my expectations of just how tough a player can really be even further.

Before I share the specifics about her let me share that I already had high expectations. At a recent National Professional Fastpitch event I had Caitlin Lowe sign a poster I had made for one of my top slappers. When I gave my player the poster she said “Coach you have no idea how much I love Caitlin Lowe. As a young girl I watched her run into a fence and break her nose. I want to be like her.” At which point I interrupted her and asked “you want to break your nose running into a fence?” She said “Of course not. She came back the next day and played ball. I want the chance in my career to show the world how tough I can really be, just like her.” Of course I knew what Caitlin Lowe had done. I had also watched this player gut out a 102 fever one time and the flu another time to play exceptional ball. So I had no idea that what I had witnessed from her didn’t even scratch the surface of what she was really willing to go through if need be in order to show the world how much love she really has for the game.

So back to the story … this young lady dove for a ball in the first game of her tournament. The timing was off just a bit and she broke both knuckles on the index finger of her throwing hand as she tried to cover up the ball. The odd shape of her finger, the purplish color of it and the fact that it was about double the size in seconds was the first clue that it was definitely broken. Her coach and the umpires both wanted to do the humane thing and take her out of the game. Fighting through the tears and the pain she refused to leave. You would have to know her to understand that that battles wasn’t one that her coach or the umpire were going to win so they allowed her to remain in the game. Big deal, seen that lots of times, that just the background for what I really wanted to share. By morning her finger was swollen worse and it was obvious that she couldn’t throw. But she insisted on hitting, and in practice demonstrated that she could still hit despite being down 1 critical finger. She destroyed the ball all day long. I was there to watch her the first game on Sunday and honestly looking at her finger almost made me sick. But she was determined to continue hitting. Not only did she hit, she ended up in a situation that I’m not sure I’ll ever forget. At my clinics I teach/encourage very aggressive base running. Well here she was on base after crushing the ball, and just when I thought she’d done all she could to impress me she took a huge lead and begged the catcher to snap back to first base and then proceeded to do a perfect dive back into first. Broken finger and all.

Macy showed me this weekend that her heart was in fact much bigger than I had previously given her credit for. I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen girls with amazing hearts that shine through the pain and the tears. Those that have demonstrated for you that the line between being hurt and being injured is sometimes really hard to find.

Category : Coaching / Mental advice / Training