Last week I got a text from my Captain saying she needed me to volunteer to sign autographs for little girls who were coming to Moravian for Women’s Athlete Day. I didn’t necessarily want to give up my Saturday, but as my senior softball season comes to a close and the nostalgia slowly sets in, I decided it wasn’t the worst idea.

As I sat at a table with two representatives from each women’s athletic team signing autographs for dozens of little girls with aspirations to be collegiate athletes, I realized at one point in my life I was one of these girls. I remember being in awe of college softball players when I was a kid—visiting various sports camps,  feeling so excited to get the chance to talk to them. To sit and look at those girls in amazement of me and all of the other women representing Moravian College Athletics, I realized my life had come full circle.

I fell in love with softball the moment my cleats touched the dirt.  As a kid, I loved watching women from teams across the country compete for their schools. The drive and passion they showed  playing the very same game I loved so much motivated me to want to be in their shoes some day. When the time came for me to choose a college, leaving softball out of that equation felt empty.

Fast forward to an early commitment and four seasons later at Moravian; my dirty cleats are more than worn down. That passion, however, remains.

Being a student athlete hasn’t been easy because being a college student isn’t easy. Between juggling practice, homework, class times, meetings, eating, a social life—don’t even get me started on the sleep schedule. At times the journey was overwhelming. It was a heavy load full of sacrifices.

When I was visiting my softball camps at seven years old, this time in my life  seemed so far out of reach—almost unimaginable. Looking back on my four years at Moravian, my definition of being a student athlete has changed. Originally, it was being held accountable for the things I have done wrong. It meant being held to a higher standard that only I could uphold knowing a team was attached to my name. It meant teachers knowing your coach and telling him if you skipped a class (or two). It meant missing parties because of games and campus events because of early practice the next morning.

As time went on, those pretty quintessential realities faded into the background and were replaced with this intense gratitude for the opportunity to be a student athlete. Now, being a student athlete means always having a place to sit in the Cafe. It means late nights and early mornings with a group of people I would have never met if they also didn’t fall in love with the same sport I did. It means having twenty siblings walking around campus. It’s a sense of security, a sense of self-expression, and a sense of identity.

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