“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
It’s one of my favorite bible verses.
I’ve been blessed to have some amazing moments in my life.
Like anyone else, I’ve had some low times as well.
After all, getting a pacemaker installed in my chest when I was five years old wasn’t exactly what I had in mind as a child. It wasn’t ideal, obviously, but to me, it only meant that I can’t do contact sports anymore. And in all honesty, it became such a ‘routine’ part of my life that I don’t even consider it a big deal.
All that is to say, even since a young age, I’ve always learned to trust in His plan.
Believe me, when I was growing up playing baseball, I had no idea I’d be rounding the bases one day, hitting home runs for Oklahoma.
Nor did I even have aspirations to do that.
But I’ve always kept the faith that God would lead me to where I was destined to be, and that place turned out to be Norman, Oklahoma, on the softball field.
Learning about the Sooners
I didn’t start playing softball until I was around 14 years old when I moved with my family to Arizona.
Up until that point, I pretty much played baseball.
Frankly, I believe that was actually quite beneficial to my game.
In baseball, you focus on the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, and footwork — things that came in really handy when I made the transition to softball.
That said, I was fairly oblivious to the sport of softball as a whole. I didn’t play it growing up, so I never bothered to watch it or follow along or anything.
When colleges started to recruit me, however, I obviously had to change that.
That’s when I first started to learn about softball at the University of Oklahoma.
And once I did, I was sold.
I committed to OU in 2015.
I watched them win the national title in 2016.
At that moment, I realized I didn’t just commit to play softball for one of the top programs in the country.
I committed to the best softball program in the country.
A champion with a void
While it’s more than a little intimidating to step into a program so prominent as a freshman at OU, it ended up working to my benefit.
When a program’s culture is as strong as OU’s, there’s a championship mentality that no one is above anyone else.
Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a returning All-American, everything is earned.
Nothing is given.
With that message being evident on the first day of practice, I worked as hard as I could to earn my spot as the starting shortstop as a freshman.
And I kept that work ethic and championship mindset going every year I’ve been at OU. I’ve never rested on my laurels because that’s not how this team is structured.
We push each other to bring out the absolute best in one another, and in 2021, it paid off with a dogpile in Oklahoma City as we won another national title.
It’s difficult to describe how I felt at that moment.
On the one hand, I was beyond blessed to be a part of a championship team at OU, just like the teams I watched when I was in high school.
On the other hand, I was kind of like, okay, we’re the champs. This is awesome.
But what’s next?
And it just goes to show that these achievements and accolades are wonderful, but if this is all you’re striving toward, it’s going to lead to an unfulfilling life.
Repeating through His glory
I went into the 2022 season this past year with a much different mindset. Yes, obviously, winning another championship was the goal, but it wasn’t my only goal.
I wanted to focus more of my attention on the journey and process that goes into winning a championship, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the best season of softball I’ve ever played.
When we did repeat as champs in 2022, there’s a specific moment that encapsulates the new mindset I had on the season.
Instead of the stereotypical “We Are The Champions” being blared over the speakers while we were on the field celebrating, they played our team’s favorite song, “Nobody” by Casting Crowns.
There’s a line in that song that says, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody all about somebody who saved my soul.”
That was unbelievably powerful to hear those lyrics because it was so much bigger than the softball field.
It was bigger than the back-to-back championships.
It was a reminder to thank and praise the One who’s responsible for us being in this moment and to give our glory to.
I’m so incredibly happy that I could share the field with my teammates during that impactful celebration, and it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Embracing the love and growth
When I think about what makes the OU softball program so meaningful, I think about all the players that came before me that helped change the culture and impacted this program.
In my past four seasons – and especially the two championship seasons – it’s been an absolute honor to carry the torch, if you will, of continuing the prominence and legacy of OU softball.
I’m reminded of this impact every single day when I drive by our field and see construction starting on Love’s Field, which will be the new home of Sooners softball in the near future.
While I’m bummed that I’ll be graduated by the time the field is ready to be played on, I’m so grateful to the Love family and the rest of the donors that helped make this a reality.
I can’t stress enough how important that support is to help expand the sport. With this new-and-improved facility, the capacity is doubled in size. This gives so many more fans the opportunity to experience the game, and they’ll quickly understand why we all have such a strong passion for it.
Not only is Love’s Field going to make OU stronger as a program, but it’s going to grow the game and set a standard across the country for other schools to take notice and expand their facilities.
Softball is growing immensely, and I truly believe Love’s Field is only the beginning.
Let God lead the way
Like I have throughout my entire life, I’m going to lean on my faith and God to help me decide what’s next for me after this upcoming softball season, which will be my fifth and final year.
While I’d love to continue playing softball professionally, I know there aren’t quite as many opportunities at the professional level yet. But whether I continue playing or not, I’ll always love the game and do everything in my power to help it grow.
Outside the softball field, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always taken a keen interest in the medical field in relation to having a pacemaker at such a young age.
I have a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, and I’d jump at the chance to work with medical devices. I’d specifically love to work with pacemakers as a way to give back and make kids feel comfortable so that they don’t have to be scared or put limitations on their life just because they have a pacemaker.
Additionally, I’d love to potentially explore an opportunity within FCA — the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Talking to kids and uniting Jesus and sports is definitely of great interest to me, too.
Whatever lies ahead for my future, though, I know God will lead me exactly where I need to be.
That includes being at Love’s Field as a spectator in the centerfield grass berm a few years down the road.
It’ll look a little different than being on the infield dirt at shortstop, but what a view that will be of the future of the sport and program I hold so dear to my heart.
And a lifetime of memories to look back on.