By Kaylee Armida
PINE BUSH – Being an awkward, uncoordinated child isn’t exactly what people picture when they hear the term ‘talented athlete.’ When it comes to overcoming obstacles, that’s something that I’ve had to do my whole life. Little league was a nightmare for me; I was always that kid that looked like she had potential. When I turned twelve, I decided I wanted to take softball more seriously. I joined a travel team to further develop my skills. This made me comparable to the other girls, however I still wasn’t satisfied. I made my dad take me to the field and cages after school so I could continue to get better. That year I was named captain for both my travel and my modified team, but I still needed a lot of work.
Winter of my freshman year was when I decided to take things to another level. I started working out intensely. I had practices with professional strongman competitors who specialized in training athletes. I pushed my limits in terms of weight and reps. I attended multiple practices in a week. Between travel, school ball, workouts and gym sessions, I never had a day off.
I finally reaped what I had sown my sophomore year; I made the Varsity softball team. I ensured that I was always early for practices and continued working harder than anyone else there. I started out the season on the bench, which killed me. It took some time, but my coach eventually saw how hard I was working and how I was encouraging of my teammates. I worked my way to becoming the pinch runner every game; I stole as often as possible. I was making strides, but my goal of playing shortstop still wasn’t realized.
As soon as I got home after a game I locked myself in my room and cried silently, but I never gave up. I eventually worked my way into subbing into left field for the first time. I managed to finish out the season as the starting right fielder every game. I still questioned what it was that was keeping me out of the infield. I felt inferior, no matter how hard I worked at practice, it didn’t seem to matter. I was determined that I would become a better athlete for next season.
Spring and summer, I was the starting shortstop of every inning of every game for travel ball. I received constant reps during the week, trying to perfect my form. I ended up leading my team both offensively and defensively that year.
The fall and winter season came quickly. I was focused on making myself stronger and faster. I went to my trainers and they pushed me beyond my limits and fixed my form. Winter came, and it was time to to crank up the intensity. My school coach held practices of his own and I attended every one of them. He focused on my throwing and hitting mechanics, allowing me to work on drills separate from the rest of the girls.
Junior year I started at second base. Although not my coveted shortstop position, I continued to work towards my goal. Having played second in little league, I was comfortable, but a little crushed because I thought that I worked hard enough to be able to start in my position. I managed to have an amazing season, leading the team offensively and earning a MVP award for it.
Senior year has started. I continue to work with my coaches and trainers. My school coach told me that he has seen how hard I have worked over the years and would like to start me at shortstop. I learned that fierce determination, persistence, and hard work were the essential ingredients to overcome any obstacle. Instead of resigning my desired position, I turned my flaws into strengths and will continue to apply this strategy throughout life.
With all of my perseverance, I was the coaches pick as a Captain for this season!
I have also committed to attend Clark University,
Worcester, Massachusetts, where I received the prestigious Robert Goddard Scholarship (only given to one male and one female) along with additional scholarships and grants. I was also told that I was Clark’s top recruit for their softball program and plan to continue my softball career for the Clark University Cougars and major in Education.