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A Crushed Dream

by Jessica Maher

Growing up all Jasmine wanted to do was play softball on the varsity team for her high school. She wanted to represent them on the field in one of the most important positions. Starting out as a freshman, she trained diligently with her mom, every single day after school before the season even started. When the softball season started, Jasmine was ready to show off her skills!

On the first day of tryouts she was ready – her blood pumped with adrenaline like a little kid on a sugar high. They called her name to come up to pitch first and she felt good. She thought she could even improve with  a  little  extra  practice.  Every day, after she had her pitching  and batting rounds, she talked and practiced fielding with the other fielders.

Some of these girls were really good for beginners!  It felt as if they just breathed in talent through their nose. But Jasmine knew real talent had to be nourished and perfected like a beautiful garden rose.

Jasmine’s Coach always seemed to be helping the other kids learn how to throw the ball and bat with authority. It was as if coach was always “busy” when she asked for help. She asked coach during every practice to watch her pitch and give her pointers but he turned and walked away every time. How devastated would this make you feel? By the time of the softball tournament, she was determined to prove her worth to Coach, like a little girl proving herself to her mom.

As the first, second, third, fourth, AND fifth softball games rolled around, Jasmine was set on proving herself to the Coach. She was always put in as an outfielder, presumably because the ball was rarely hit out there.  She could have been the star player on the team, but he never  gave her any encouragement. Not ever. She caught pop – up balls, threw other players out at second or third base, and she only missed one or two catches throughout the whole season.  As the final softball game approached, she was excited to get to experience the exhilaration of competition and help her team win first place.

When she arrived at the big game, she started to warm up her arms and legs by running a lap around the field. She overheard two of her teammates talking about some unexpected changes to the roster. She heard that the usual starting pitcher was scheduled to play  outfield, and that one outfielder needed to be benched. Curious, Jasmine finished her warm up lap and jogged over to Coach; “Hey Coach, am I playing outfield today?” she asked curious and confident that she was playing. “No.” he said; “Laina is playing instead.” With that said, the Coach walked away, visibly proud to crush a girl’s dream of wanting to play a sport. He did not care that she was part of the team – he disregarded all of her extra training, and stole a precious moment from her life – she desperately wanted to be on the field to celebrate with her team when they won first place.

When Jasmine’s grandma asked why she was taking off her glove and knee pads, she told her grandma that Coach had taken her out of the game in favor of a pitcher who had never  played outfield. Heartbroken inside she just wanted to go home and eat her feelings away through a pint of ice cream and Oreo cookies. But her grandma had other plans.

When her grandma asked her where the Coach was, Jasmine was not lying when she said “I don’t know”, but she instantly regretted saying it.  Her  grandma was already marching over  to one of her other team mates asking where the coach was sitting. They all pointed towards the bench where he and the assistant coach were seated. Her grandmother laid into the coach and chastised him for favoring certain athletes.

Competing in the final softball game and playing outfielder was a clearly defined goal Jasmine had for herself. She wanted to be a part of that winning team so bad she could taste  it.  The entire season led up to that final game –  all the excitement, fanfare and (what seemed to be) possibilities. She had been told, “If you dream it and work hard for it, then you can achieve it”. Jasmine worked hard the entire season, but in this situation it felt as if she had been lied to her entire life. Wanting to do something bad is only half the battle…she needed a Coach to believe in her.

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