Sandra Webb

I grew up juggling multiple team sports year-round. From rushing to after-school practice in the gym to doing laps in the pool to sprinting out on the field, sports have always been an integral part of my life, and softball has been particularly important to me. Although fastpitch softball is a sport that relies heavily on statistics and numerical data, the sport is also notorious for its unpredictability. So the unpredictable circumstances COVID-19 has thrown us into strikes a somewhat familiar chord with me.

The dynamics of softball involve so many variables that it is impossible to predict them all with any high level of certainty. For instance, you can never be sure of the pitch you’re about to receive, or if you will even make contact with the ball once you swing. After all, hitting a fast-moving, spinning ball cleanly with a round bat is no easy feat.  Without a doubt, the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis transcends sports, but still, through athletics, I have developed a heightened understanding of circumstantial uncertainty and utter disappointment.

One thing that is certain in softball is that you will indubitably fail time and time again.  But even if you fail seven out of 10 times, you’re still considered a very good hitter. At the professional levels, an elite hitter gets on base roughly 30% of the time and anything above that is truly impressive. As may be expected, in a sport where you constantly face defeat every time you are up to bat, you learn to have a short-term memory, make quick adjustments and keep swinging away. Naturally, the best players develop a very high level of resilience. In this pandemic, resilience is key to moving forward.

My coaches would often say, “Don’t let the umpire take the game away from you!” When I was young, I didn’t fully grasp what this meant. I thought perhaps it meant to “Be aggressive!” or “Don’t strike out looking!” But now, I interpret it to mean, “Don’t lose sight of the difference between what you can and can’t control.”  In the game, just like in life, there are certain things totally outside of your control — the weather, who’s umpiring, or the calls they make. Don’t focus on those. When things happen in the game that are unexpected, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It’s easy to get emotional, lose sight of yourself, and let the speed of the game outpace you. Instead, exert your efforts on managing and commanding the “controllables.” This spring, many athletes and non-athletes alike were drastically affected by something completely out of our control. I hope that once we are all able to pick our routines back up, we can find some semblance of normalcy in the post-pandemic world, and that we remember to zone in on the “controllables.”

We must bear in mind that we’re in this together. We’re a team, and only as a team will we be able to overcome this pandemic. I’ve always been a fan of team sports. There’s something special in knowing that you are an integral piece of something much larger than yourself. The paradox of team sports is simple yet complex; without you the team can’t win, and without the team, you can’t win. In this game of life, we must all rely on one another to stand a chance at achieving victory.

Giovannah Webb |