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May 11, 2020

Katelyn Hendershott: Dear Softball

May 11, 2020

Katelyn Hendershott is a graduatuing senior and a member of the MSU women's softball team. She graduated with a degree in kinesiology in the College of Education.

Dear Softball,

Many people, when they write these letters, it is because they are saying goodbye to the sport. Hanging up their cleats, stepping off the field for the last time, played their last inning, hit their last pitch. But I'm not saying goodbye, I just get to enjoy it from a different perspective. Though I am no longer a Michigan State softball student-athlete, I will always be a softball player.

Softball changed my life. It has taught me life lessons, shaped me as a person and helped me grow into the woman I am today. So, this is not a goodbye letter, but rather a thank you letter.

I was not always a "softball player." In fact, most of my life I swore I was going to play in the WNBA. I was a baller through and through. While I still played softball and loved the sport, I just loved basketball too. It wasn't until my freshman year in high school when my softball coach told me that while I was good at basketball, I didn't look like a basketball player. She told me I looked like a softball player.

I went home after practice that day and thought about what she said. She didn't mean how I physically looked, but rather what I embodied. To be a softball player, you have to be tough, you have to resilient, you have to absolutely love the game.

While growing up, I had a lot of people tell me I would be good but not good enough. That coach was the first person that helped me realize that I could do it — I was good enough, and if I really wanted to do something, I just had to work for it.

You see, the game has brought me people that have changed the course of my life and taught me so much, not just about the sport, but life. So, thank you, thank you for giving me mentors, friends, family, supporters and so much more.

However, softball and I have not always seen eye-to-eye. As Coach J would say, "The game doesn't care." The game doesn't know or care who the best team is, or the weather conditions, or what's going on in your personal life or what your batting average is.

The game is the game; it never changes.

This was one of the best lessons the I learned. The lesson that keeps on giving. I was never the best person on the team, or the most talented. But I never let that stop me.

Every day I came to practice and I wanted to outwork everyone. I came in and hit extra, took extra reps, watched film. And, even then, I was still never the best or the most talented. But the game doesn't care. I was blessed with the opportunity to come to college and get the best education because of softball. I showed up every day and left it all on the field, even when I didn't have very much.

A lot of people ask why someone would put in all of this work, time and effort if you're still not getting the results. My answer was always, 'Why wouldn't you?' Why wouldn't you give everything you have, why wouldn't you give your best effort?

I was doing it all because I loved the game and even when I failed, I knew I gave it my all. The game got my best self every time. This gave me toughness and resiliency, the kind of toughness that translated in all aspects of my life. Toughness is "the state of being strong enough to withstand adverse conditions and rough handling."

Throughout my career, I have had three knee surgeries and one shoulder surgery. Each time I came back stronger, more determined and, most importantly, with a greater love for the game.

Lastly, I cannot thank the game enough for providing me with the opportunity to recieve a top notch education, taking me places I would have never been able to see and experience and bringing some of the most amazing people into my life.

Because of you I know I am good enough, I am strong, I am powerful and I only hope I can give back to the game as much as it has given me. And now, I get to enjoy the sport, not as a player, but instead as an enthusiast, as a fan and as a coach.

This isn't goodbye; this is just the beginning.

Love forever, #34 Shotty

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