2015 Fordham Softball – Week 10 / Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Friday, March 20, 2015 – St. Louis University / St. Louis, Missouri

In just a matter of minutes, the view from our Southwest Airlines flight went from daunting to clear as day, serving as a metaphor for the trajectory of our season.

In just a matter of minutes, the view from our Southwest Airlines flight went from daunting to clear as day, serving as a metaphor for the trajectory of our season.

I was nervous as we waited for takeoff. With heavy snow pounding the runway’s pavement and gusting winds causing our Southwest Airlines airplane to tremor, feelings of anxiety and vulnerability were conjuring up inside of me. This was the worst weather we had experienced on the runway in my four years at Fordham, and I thought for sure that we were destined for an about-face and a short trip back to the safety of the airport. But, our pilot had other ideas and decided to brave the elements. A mistake, I thought, for sure.

As the several tons of steel we occupied accelerated along the runway, I braced my armrest in fear of what I could not control; feeling small and powerless amid something as big and daunting as an airplane and its irrevocable takeoff. The plane was going to take flight, no matter what the intensity of my trepidation was. I had to just trust that our plane and its operators were prepared to lead us through the storm, and that ultimately, God was in control of it all.

When the wheels left the ground, the airplane emerged from the pavement with uncertainty, struggling initially to find its balance and straighten its path for the first few seconds of its ascendance. As we loomed higher and higher above the East River with each passing moment, we abruptly became captivated by a sea of grey. The very storm clouds that were the sources of my anxiety had engulfed us in their rage and shaded any comforting colors and sights of onward progress from view. It was as though we were moving at rapid speeds, but not really headed anywhere, or at least anywhere promising.

Then, in a matter of minutes (which felt like hours, nonetheless), we emerged into what appeared to be a different stratosphere. Our ascension through the clouds had carried us above the storm, and in the midst of the brightest blue sky and sunshine I had ever seen. Below us, feathery clouds gave the impression that they were cradling our aircraft and softening its weight, along with the burden of my fears.

We had literally traveled out of the darkness and into the light.

Following the short time of fear and uncertainty I had endured at the beginning of our flight, the rest of the journey was as smooth as one could imagine, with rays of sunlight illuminating the cabin and never-ending horizons stretching further than my eyes could see. The polar opposite of what our trip was looking like at its start.

Our flying experience today somewhat mirrors what we have experienced since the first week of February. Although it may appear differently to outsiders, this season has been a stormy one at times, as rough experiences and bad days during our tough pre-conference stretch of traveling and playing sometimes left us with fears and doubts about the remainder of our time together in uniform. For me personally, things have often felt grey this season like they did amongst those storm clouds today; like my senior season has been passing me by at rapid speeds, but I’ve been unable to see any color along the way to brighten my journey because of several instances that have, at times, clouded its enjoyment.

But, the metaphor that our most recent flying experience created has given me great hope for all that lies ahead. In trusting that, like our Southwest airplane, we have already braved the grey and stormy elements of our season and are destined for beautiful forecasts ahead, I am optimistic.

It is ironic that today is the official start of spring because tomorrow is the onset of another season for our team; it is the beginning of Atlantic 10 Conference play and the dawn of our real season, the one that will determine our seeding in the conference tournament and position to win a championship in May.

As we begin our conference slate against a very tough St. Louis team this weekend, it is important for me to remember all that was realized and experienced today aboard Southwest Airlines flight 395. No matter how uncertain or daunting things may have seemed at times during these past six weeks, I firmly believe that every struggle has served as a test of our durability and ability to trust in the process and the greater plan for our season. And ultimately, it is crucial to know that on an airplane, in softball, and in life, it is often the time spent in darkness that allows one to truly appreciate the light.

I know the light lies ahead.

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Glorious Triumphs and Worthwhile Experiences

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Atlantic 10 Tournament / Bronx, NY (A10 TOURNAMENT CHAMPS)

Rams posing with the trophy after the big win.

Rams posing with the trophy after the big win. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

I took the time to look around and take it all in. In the 5th inning, with the score 11-0 and a trip to the NCAA Tournament just three outs away, I gave myself the chance to truly enjoy what was happening at that very moment.

It wasn’t exactly what I had imagined it would be, but then again, most things usually aren’t. When a championship game is decided by the mercy-rule, the immediate thrill of victory isn’t nearly as electrifying. After letting it sink in for a few days, however, I’m glad there was never any doubt that we were going to win that final game against St. Louis because it allowed me to step outside of myself for the last three outs, and live in that moment I had been dreaming about all year.

So much of my writing over the course of this season has been about seizing the moment, enjoying the journey, and even appreciating the seemingly difficult things along the way. In a matter of three outs, probably equaling about five to seven minutes, I was able to do each of those things.

Talk about things coming full circle.

Perfect symmetry, as Lauren and Amy celebrate (left), while Elise and I do the same (right).

Perfect symmetry: Lauren and Amy celebrate (left), while Elise and I do the same (right). (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

I thought about the grueling 6am conditioning workouts in our outfield in September, as well as the time spent practicing and earning the right to be standing on the field at that very moment.

I flashed back to some of the hardest times during the season, too; I looked at Elise next to me at shortstop and remembered how, two months ago after a painful loss to Central Michigan in Florida, she had said that it wasn’t too late to turn our season around, and that we could go on a run and eventually be laughing about all the struggles we had endured.

I looked around and took in the beautiful surroundings of Bahoshy Field, which had not been that packed since Alabama came to play us in 2012. With the banners hanging high along the fence and the home crowd buzzing for the championship they knew to be inevitable, I felt a sense of pride.

When the final out was ultimately recorded (a line drive right back to Michele at the mound), I ran and jumped into Elise’s arms for the second consecutive year; a childlike celebration reflecting the pure and unadulterated joy of the moment.

Rams mob Sydney after leading off the championship game with a home run.

Rams mob Sydney after leading off the championship game with a home run. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

After the game, a few of my friends were commenting about how I had a huge smile plastered across my face during the entirety of the last inning. I couldn’t help but smile, both outwardly and inwardly. We had done it. We had accomplished our biggest goal of repeating as Atlantic 10 Champions, and had done so on our home field. We had overcome struggles from the beginning of the journey that had caused us to question our team’s identity and make a conscious choice to alter the trajectory of our season. We had risen to the occasion and played our best softball when it mattered most, as we swept through the three games we played in the Atlantic 10 tournament without leaving a doubt in anyone’s mind that we were the best team in the conference.

Although the championship game may have reflected an easy path to victory, with the score being lopsided and the mercy-rule coming into effect, the irony of the situation is that the road to the championship was anything but easy for us. As a team, we had to endure some of the lowest of lows throughout the season; from being humbled for the first time in Charleston, to going 0-5 in California, to the disaster that was the Bradley game, to team and personal conflicts throughout the journey, and most recently, to the embarrassment of being swept by Dayton, our journey to the top of the mountain had several pitfalls along the way.

Me and the trophy, a moment I had been waiting for all season.

A moment I had been waiting for all season. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

But, as Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

To me, the value of our 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship is greater than any trophy or banner could ever symbolize; it rests in the memories I will always cherish and the people I experienced the journey with.

As we continue our season at Florida State University in the NCAA Regionals this upcoming weekend, I plan to continue seizing the moment, enjoying the journey, and even appreciating the seemingly difficult things along the way. After all, that’s what makes the triumphs glorious and the experiences worthwhile.