It was a normal day to begin with. The sun was shining bright in the cloudless afternoon sky. I took a deep breath and dug my cleats into the rust red dirt, across the field towards my own dugout. I could smell the freshly mown grass easily; almost pick out the clovers in the field. It was completely perfect, as though Mother Nature knew this day needed to be flawless. I glanced over toward the other dugout, criticizing our competition. This was going to be easy.
Still, this knowledge did not stop the beating of my frantic heart. Thump, thump, thump, thump. It was rhythmic, harmonic, and beautiful, and yet it scared the hell out of me. Anxiety and nervousness weren’t two feelings I was well acquainted with, but boy, I could feel them now. Sweat ran down my face like droplets of water, a constant reminder of the heat. A heat so bad, I could feel my neck turning red, that deep red you see in a freshly boiled lobster, or at the heart of a fire. It was intense, and almost soothing. This was it, this was my moment, I was in my zone. Everything was going to be okay.
As I jogged across the field, I heard the overzealous fans screaming “Go Eagles!” at the top of their lungs. It made me smile, in a good way. It made me remember exactly what I was playing for, exactly what was on the line. It was typically harder for me though. This year, five freshmen made the Varsity softball team, and I was one of them. It was a pressure no one understood, a weight on my shoulders that I carried around constantly. I knew the coaches thought I was good enough, they even told me so at tryouts. But I could almost feel the doubt and the criticisms from my peers as I walked through the halls at school, or even now, while they sat on the bleachers, staring me down from across the field.
I realized I hadn’t been paying attention. I was standing at the opening of the dugout, waiting for the announcements to begin. The wind had picked up quite a bit, carrying some of...