My Special Thank to the Softball Seniors
-There is a thanks to each senior and the ones leaving the team, just bear with my trip (lap) down memory lane.
If you follow any of my blogs or my twitter account, you know I am super into softball. So, I am especially thankful at what these seniors have done in their time at Auburn. I played a long time. I only played a little fastpitch because, well, you can see the date on there. This was my 2nd year. That's me, third from the right on the bottom row. I was even smaller the year before. Those girls in the top row are actually in the same age division as me. Only the two on the end are coaches. The rest are my teammates. My coach showed us little bottom row gals NO MERCY from the big girls up top. He also taught me to LOVE the game. Strike out? Sucks for you! Take a lap! I played until 1994, when I went to college. The days of park ball, a small amount of travel ball and "tournament teams" were over for me. When I went to college, there were not the opportunities that there are now in the southeast for college softball. Was I good enough? Probably not, but it was not even something I dreamed of in those days. I played some in intramural at college, and that was a blast itself.
These days, I roam the ball park with my nieces. I help coach sometimes, sometimes I am doing stats and the "scorebook" and sometimes I just watch. Thanks to what these Auburn seniors and those around them have done, these girls CAN dream of playing college softball at their beloved Auburn. The two on the end on the right are my nieces. They are 4th generation Auburn gals. My nieces have loved watching these last few years when we can. We cannot always watch because we are playing ourselves.
So for the seniors as a group, thank you. You've changed the landscape and culture of softball at Auburn, in the SEC, and in our part of the country. You have built a legacy that has made it possible for little girls to dream big dreams. I know you are heartbroken and disappointed at the outcome this weekend, but you will not know what you have done for these little girls. So from an old washed up ballplayer that never got the chance and for my nieces who dream of playing on The Plains one day, thank you. I know you felt a little short of your goals but when Auburn wins the whole thing in OKC next year or the next, your work and dedication will be on the field with them. You've laid the groundwork for a whole new generation! So, now without further delay, my individual thanks...
1. Jenna Abbott- Thank you so much for everything you have done for Auburn softball. I know the countless hours of team practice, individual practice, traveling and games takes a toll. It makes the academics harder that it would be without softball. I have enjoyed watching you play and "getting to know you" during your time at Auburn with interviews and clips and twitter. It's been amazing. Thank you. You will never know how much your class changed everything. One of my girls started pitching this year and I gotta tell you, its a lonely place to be! I have a WHOLE new appreciation for pitchers now. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you because I know its going to be something really special. I hope you stay in touch with your Auburn family because there will always be a place for you in our hearts. We are going to miss you and your little baseball wind up very much!
2. Haley Fagan- I feel like I have gotten to know you a little better than others even though I have never met any of you! It has been a joy and privilege to be the person praying for you the last 3 years. We started prayers4players in 2012, and we have tried to add sports every year. My nieces love you. I know it has not been sunshine and daisies for you but look at what you have done. Everything has changed. Auburn is a power player in the SEC now. We watched you battle through your injury last year. Thank you for sticking it out. You showed my girls that you don't walk away when it gets a little hard or challenging. Maybe one day we will get to meet in person. Your effort, time and dedication changed things at Auburn and we thank you. No matter what else, you left it all out on the field every time you went out there. I hope that you stay in touch with your Auburn family. I am really glad you transferred from USA!! (Even though we go to softball camp there and love it!) From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have done.
3. Kasey Cooper- I don't think we thought you were a real human being until this year. You definitely did leave a legacy. One of my nieces is an extremely intellectually gifted little girl. She has been especially interested in watching you. She has been into engineering before she even knew what it was. She takes a special engineering class now on Thursdays! She's also a lefty non-slapper, so she has learned a lot watching you! You have given her the greatest role model we could ever have asked for. Thank you. Thank you for giving my girls hope that they can one day play at Auburn. Thank you for showing them that you can do it while being an excellent student. I hope we get to see you in the Olympics in a couple of years. Thank you for your hard work, your time, your dedication, your sweat and tears. It has been a joy to watch you play. I once read that Bro Chette wrote that Cam played football as if he played for God's pleasure. I feel the same way about watching you play softball. I gotta tell you, it was extremely touching today to see you tear up when you were on 2nd base and your mom did the same thing. That is really special. I am SO GLAD you came to Auburn.
4. Sydne Waldrop- I really appreciate you & what you've done for Auburn. You never got a lot of playing time. You did not have the glory that some of your other teammates did. You were still there, giving it all you had. I often do the scorebook at the park for the girls' team and even for other teams sometimes. I used to do it for A JOB when I was in high school if I wasn't playing. You helped to make a difference in the culture of softball at Auburn. Thank you for everything that you have done for Auburn. I know that you are going to do some really special things. I hope that you stay in touch with your Auburn family.
5. Whitney Jordan- I just read that you were going to be moving on with a teaching career. I don't know what you are going to teach, but I just concluded my 19th year teaching. It is hard work but is more rewarding than any dollar amount any other career might pay. I have a special place in my heart for you. You stepped up big time last year and took on a role when you needed to and played it BIG. When it was time to step back, you did that as well. Thank you so much. I know there were countless hours of practice and studying. Thank you so much. Your dedication changed things at Auburn. I hope you stay in touch with your Auburn family because we really, really love ya'll a lot!
6. Madi Gipson- I also read that you were moving on to the next part of your life. Thank you for your time and dedication to Auburn. I know there were days when you just wanted to not do it anymore. Thank you for sticking it out. I thank you for everything you did for changing the culture of softball at Auburn. One day they are going to win it all in OKC and you will have been part of it. You made a difference for everyone coming after you. Thank you for everything you did for Auburn. I know you are going to do great things. Please stay in touch with your Auburn family. Thank you.
So from my baby girls (who are NOT artists!) thank you!
PS: I forgot to thank someone. Thank you Auburn students for coming to games, practices and everything else and supporting the team and cheering LOUDLY. Even in Oklahoma, we could hear the cheers of "Its great to be an Auburn Tiger". That was really something special. Your support of the team helped change the future as well. I can tell you from personal experience that there were lots of times these girls played where some of their parents were the only ones rooting them on. I want to especially thank Clint Richardson. He bought me a pin in OKC. If you've followed me at all, you know I have a serious pin collection. Thanks, Clint for being such an avid supported of all of the Auburn sports. You deserve senior recognition, too. I know we are going to hear about great things from you in the future. I know you are going to be something special!!!!