I leave class at 1:20 pm while Rodenwald is talking about how to apply the law of conservation. Today is game day, so I grab my things and try not to worry about the fact that I’ll be missing 35 minutes of valuable class time.
“Good luck,” says Rodenwald as I smile and walk out the door.
I walk quickly down the hallway to make sure I have enough time to change and catch the bus that will take the JV and Varsity softball teams on the hour and a half bus ride to Chisago Lakes. Girls are bustling around the locker room getting dressed and asking others to borrow things that they forgot. I walk down to door nine and hang out with my teammates while we wait for the bus to arrive.
At 1:39 someone calls down the hallway, “The bus is here!” and we all calmly walk to the bus, tossing our bags and equipment into the trailer attached to the back. “Don’t forget your gear!” calls out Kalley. Everybody is assigned a job such as bringing the wiffle balls, hard balls, helmets, water cooler, etc. I (along with Josie and Sydney) am in charge of making sure the dugout is clean after every practice and game.
We all clamber on the bus, trying to find seats nexts to our friends. When the last couple of girls climb on and the coaches follow them in, the bus pulls away from the high school while our fourth block classes are still going on and our classmates are learning without us. As we begin our ride to Chisago Lakes I pull out my lunch bag and begin to eat my dinner and watch others do the same. The bus ride is filled with shenanigans like stacking Chex Mix and Goldfish on Ali who is fast asleep.
When we arrive around 3 pm, girls run off the bus to the port a potties. After I take my turn, I walk down to the field my team will be playing on and hook my bag to the fence behind the long bench that already has water bottles, gloves, sunglasses, and seeds on it. I exchange the crocs I am wearing for the cleats I pull out of my bag as I watch girls line up in front of Sydney to get eye black applied. I grab my glove and join the line. After I get my eye black on I jog down to the clump of girls chatting, waiting for the entire team to be ready to run a lap around the field for warm ups.
After we run, we all file into a line on the foul line for our routine warm ups that we do at every game and practice. When we finish 75-100, we gather into a circle and do stretches. Today nobody seems focused and girls get off track and everyone ends up on free stretch at different times. Next is hitting. I pair up with Claire and Kendra and we shag balls in the outfield until it’s our turn to bat. So we bat hard balls, whiffle balls, and we bunt. Then it’s time for throwing. I warm up with Kendra and we take our time, making sure we are completely loose. We stay out longer than everyone else and once we feel ready, we jog back to the dugout, get a drink of water and immediately go to the outfield. I’m not fielding today because of my tendinitis so I catch for Swanson while he hits balls to the outfielders that will be playing today. After safeties, do or dies, fly balls, and spilt centers, everyone heads back to the dugout to find out what positions they will be playing. While I won’t be fielding today, I’ll be the DP (designated player) which means that I’ll only be batting and someone else will field for me.
The umpire arrives and it’s time to start the game. We are the away team so the Chisago Lake girls will be starting on the field. When the game starts it’s a blur of activity. When you are on the field you are always at attention and looking where runners are and making sure you know how many outs there are and knowing where you are going to throw the ball if it gets hit to you. If you are on the bench like I am, you are standing on the fence cheering for your teammates, watching the runners on base, and shouting out where people need to throw because when you’re on the fence, you can see the whole field and anticipate where the ball needs to go to next.
So the game goes on and, while Chisago Lakes is known for being really good, somehow we beat them. And after we high five the other team and thank the umpire, the whole team goes to right field to spend a couple minutes of reflection on our win before we get back on the bus for the long ride home. Then we pack up, clean out the dugout, and put the gear back in the trailer. Once everyone is one the bus we pull away and throughout the bus you can hear the happy chatter of Varsity and JV girls.
I spend the bus ride talking and laughing with my friends. We are all happy and tired and not once during the entire bus ride do I think about the learning that I missed during the time that I was on my way to Chisago Lake and not in my Chemistry class. I’m just grateful that I had the opportunity to do something I love, become better at it, and better my relationships with my teammates.