I’m a Proud Benchwarmer and It Has Nothing to Do With Playing Sports

girls playing sports softball

My childhood looked a lot like this: A 7 year old me, standing in the outfield holding the softball glove over my face because I was so bored. When I decided that was even more boring, I’d lean down to pick the buttercups and weeds in the field. Luckily, I never got hit in the face with the ball, but after a lot of arguing, my parents stop forcing me to play sports. You can imagine how thrilled they were to watch their daughter chasing butterflies in the outfield.

It was pretty clear early on I was never going to win any trophies.

I only played Soccer and Softball, mainly because those were the two sports my older sister loved. My brother played a little golf, but my family was used to showing up to games and cheering kids on. As the youngest, it was fair for them to try and foster a love of sports in me. But as a seven year old who enjoyed drawing pictures, taking nature walks, and writing in her journal, it was pretty clear early on I was never going to win any trophies.

It wasn’t until I had gotten a little older that my family realized my thing was more academics and writing poetry than it was being out on a field. If the fact that my coach had to frame my first hit of the season (that I acquired in the very last game) or I tried to convince my parents not to take me to practice every single time doesn’t capture my skill level then I don’t know what does.

When I told my parents and my older sister that I wanted to play club softball at my school, they were very surprised. My mom, who had always been one of my biggest fans, questioned me about it. “Are you sure?,” she asked. “Yes, I’m sure,” I assured her and the rest of my family. I had played a little ultimate frisbee my freshman year of college, but it never really stuck. I had always enjoyed the concept of baseball and softball, but when I was younger, there just wasn’t really any interest.

However the reason I decided to try a club sport had nothing to do with ability, it was everything outside of that. First, it’s been long proven that exercise raises your serotonin levels – which I believe we all benefit from. Also, it’s really good for you. If you’re a college student, and you find yourself weighed down by homework in the library too often. Playing a club sport gets me moving, sets aside an hour for exercise, and away from schoolwork. Turns out my dad was right when he told my mom that he believes playing a club sport makes you more social. In general, being around people, especially people you don’t know, helps you branch out. As someone who’s very introverted and requires a lot of downtime, I sometimes find myself wanting to be alone a little too much – and being on a team has helped me bond with others.

I kind of suck. But I also believe in myself, and I believe in anyone who wants to try something new.

Honestly, I wanted to try something new. I’m fairly involved with my school, but a lot of the times I get sick of just going to class, clubs, and coming home and sitting to do homework some more. It’s not good for anyone – and while I’m all for routine, I think monotony is dangerous. I’m giving sports a chance because I’m not the same seven year old in the outfield, or at least I don’t have to let myself be.

I firmly believe that you can do ANYTHING. Seriously, anything. Even if it’s hard, even if it seems out of reach, I’m someone who believes in the impossible. So yeah, I struggle to throw a ball – but I’m finding out that I’m pretty good at catching it. I’m not very good at hitting a ball off a tee, but I’m still finding my groove. Mostly, the people on my team, while I’m still getting to know them, are pretty great.

I’m never going to be an all star, nor am I going to win any trophies, and in a lot of people’s opinions, I kind of suck. But I also believe in myself, and I believe in anyone who wants to try something new. So if you want to get your heart rate going, and you want to give something new a chance, you should try playing club or IM sports. It’s low commitment, low pressure, and hopefully like me, you’ll find yourself blooming in places you had no idea you could grow.