Results tagged ‘ Batting Practice ’

Being Strong

“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.”
- Marge Piercy, American novelist

The other night, I was brushing my teeth, when the mirror finally caught my attention. For the first time in a long while, I saw my shoulders. And I saw that I was strong.

My strength and conditioning trainer, Michael Zolkiewicz, reminds me often, “To pull my shoulders back and walk like an athlete.” Through my years in boys’ baseball, I learned that acceptance often comes at the price of feigning invisibility. This included downplaying achievements, rarely talking, and never showing that I may be stronger than them. In short, eyes to the floor and shoulders in.

As I was sharing some of my angst over the limelight of Spring Training with Springfield College’s Head Baseball Coach Mark Simeone, he tried to comfort me, “But you are used to being different and being stared at.” And I replied, perhaps too quickly, “But I’m much more comfortable staying at home.”
And then with a breath of confession, murmured, “I just don’t live my life that
way.”

I am in the gym 6 days a week strengthening my arm and overcoming a pitching injury that once left me unable to wash my own hair. Between the medicine ball
training, the never-ending variety of planks, and the exhausting plyometrics, my
arm has become strong, durable, and pain free. Today, when I was throwing BP to the Springfield College team, a varsity player looked at me after his 6-hit
rotation and offered, ” You K’d me like three times.”

I think it’s time for me to redefine what acceptance is. Invisibility is no longer an option. And while I’m being noticed, I will pull my shoulders back, walk like an athlete, and know that I am strong.

Finding My Song

“What we play is life”
- Louis Armstrong

 Whenever I pitch in a game, I try to find my song. I sing it to myself and it helps me find my rhythm. But it can’t just be any song. The tempo has to be just right. Too fast and I leave the ball high. Too mellow and I’m not throwing hard enough. When I throw batting practice to the Oakland A’s, I want to be sure I have my song.

Today, I threw batting practice to Northeastern University’s baseball team.  I was really nervous. It’s not easy walking into a team practice, where the players
don’t know you, and then performing. Especially when you may be the only woman they have ever seen throw a baseball. But I needed to throw to prepare for Spring Training and I needed the mental challenge of controlling my
butterflies.

I release a perfect strike to the first batter.  I try not to think and just throw. I
have to find my rhythm. Take ball…step back two steps…step forward three steps…throw…follow through…and then repeat. But then I throw a ball and my mind goes into overdrive. I need a song! Keith Urban is not working.  Instead I’m thinking whether my front elbow is up. The Plain White T’s are too slow and the ball hits the plate. Black Eye Peas then race through my head and the ball sails high.

But then the rhythm comes and I enjoy a meditative state of throwing strikes. U2 had come to my rescue. In a matter of a few minutes, my heart rate dropped and I was settling in. An assistant coach stopped me and moved me back about 5 feet because “I was throwing too hard.” I was now in my moment and I was having fun.

At the end of practice, Northeastern Head Coach and former Major Leaguer, Neil McPhee, shook my hand, smiled, and shared, “they are going to love you”.

And I can’t help but think that Coach McPhee just sang his own song to me.

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