My mom called me yesterday to tell me about a call she took at work the day before. My mom does customer service and tech support for a cell phone company – I feel I can say that much because, well, it doesn’t necessarily narrow down which one. She got a call from a man who gave her his address to set up service. Upon hearing where he lives, she apologized for her breach of script and commented he lived in a place she was quite familiar with because one of her children lived there for a short time. He responded enthusiastically then commented that he was originally from a town near where I grew up. “I used to coach girls softball for the high school there between about 85-95,” he explained.
My mom being a proud mom commented that I had played high school softball for one of their rival high school between about 87-89.
“I don’t know who your daughter was, but I remember I hadn’t been coaching long and was just so impressed with this catcher they had on their JV team. She was so much better than their varsity catcher – and I recall telling my own catchers to watch her because she was good.”
My mom was like “do you remember this catcher’s name?”
“Emmy – I recall it was Emmy. And I know this because the following year when the other catcher was around, and she wasn’t – I asked the coach where she was. He said she had quit – and I thought it was too bad but knowing the gossip between coaches, I knew that coach was in everyone’s back pocket, so I thought that poor kid must have been driven off by him.”
My mom was like, “this is really interesting because, well, my daughter is Emmy – she was the catcher. And she quit for exactly that reason – she was told by that guy she would never be good enough to play varsity. So she quit and got invited to play on a slow pitch team that was all former varsity softball players who had graduated. Then she went to college and lettered all four years catching as their starting catcher.”
“Of course she did,” he replied, “I’m glad he didn’t chase her away from softball. She is one of the few that has always stuck in my head.”
My mom shifted the conversation back to the purpose of his call, but had to tell me.
“Can you believe it?? A rival coach remembered you – see? You didn’t even need to play varsity ball – you left your mark.”
I sat there a bit in shock. A little voice in the back of my head said “you know, there were several Emmy’s on the team……and one played catcher occasionally – maybe she was who this guy remembered?
Then I told that voice to shut up.
The year he remembered me, the college coach recruiting my cousin to play for his team actually watched one of my games and made the same observation. He told my dad later that if I hadn’t been so strong academically, he would have pursued me to play for him. He was the coach of a damn good Junior College team in this country – so he knew that he couldn’t likely lure me there given where I was academically.
So I told that voice to shut up.
I had people like that recruiting coach make similar comments. I walked onto the college softball team and made my place as a starter. I did all of that. No one else did. I did. I worked my ass off. I put up with the bullshit that can come with coaching and building a team. I got bruises that would make even a kinkster cringe. I was always the first on the field and usually the last off of it. I loved playing that game – and the idiot coach that almost killed that for me, he was remembered as the idiot coach – I was remembered as a player who deserved more.
Why should I not listen to the tale as told by my mom and smile at the fact I had an impact on someone when I was the age of my oldest daughter?
So, I let myself smile – I gagged those voices in my head that always wondered if I was that good even when people told me I was. And I let myself have the moment. A moment I should have had 25ish years ago, but that I would take now.
“That’s awesome, Mom,” I told her, “thank you.”