Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
Joyce Minor

Keep swinging, dreams do come true

Published:   |   Updated: May 2, 2013 at 02:48 PM

Life is all about dreams. Wanting something and longing to see it become reality doesn't mean it will. Some dreams come true and some remain elusive. So what is the difference?

Some believe it all comes down to how badly you want it. If it's just a fantasy it will probably remain so, but if you believe with all your might, it will happen. I, on the other hand, think it's up to you to make it happen.

How badly do you want it? How much pain are you willing to endure? How much perseverance can you muster?

I believe that, if you want something badly enough, you'll do whatever is necessary and then some. And you won't let anyone discourage you, no matter how long it takes.

When I was 10 years old we moved from the city to the country, from a school where girls' athletics consisted of hopscotch and jump rope to a school where girls played competitive softball. I quickly realized there was no fitting in there, if you couldn't hit a homer and run like the wind.

Running was no problem; I had always been fast on my feet. But I had never even held a bat, let alone swung at a fast pitch. The first day of school I was the last one picked when choosing up teams and my first at-bat, a quick strike-out, proved I was no ball player, just "that city girl."

I was not content to wear that label. I was determined to learn. So after school that day I found my brother's baseball and bat and took them to the backyard to practice. That bat was, of course, almost as tall as me and much heavier than a softball bat, but it would have to do. I hoisted it to my shoulder and swung it over and over. And I repeated that process for a half hour every day for a week.

Finally, one day my brother took pity on me and spent some time teaching me to choke up on the bat and swing level. Then for a week he pitched to me every afternoon and showed me how to keep my eye on the ball. Every day, all winter, in cold and even in snow, I stood in our backyard and swung that bat for at least half an hour.

When spring came I could hardly wait for the ball fields at school to dry out. Finally, there we were again choosing up sides to play softball. Again, I was the last chosen. Later, with the score tied and the winning run on base, I was the last to bat. I couldn't believe how light the softball bat felt when I picked it up and stepped to the plate. On the first pitch, I swung too hard and missed. You could hear a collective sigh from my teammates, but I relaxed and hit the second pitch solidly into left field.

I took off like a bat out of you-know-where and flew around the bases for a stand-up double. There was absolute silence at first; all the other girls were in shock. Then a resounding whoop and holler erupted around me, as our teammate crossed the plate to score. No one was happier than I, but the real vindication came the next day when I was the third player chosen. With hard work and determination, I had made it happen.

That lesson served me well as I grew up. In junior high I wanted to be a cheerleader, but lots of other girls wanted it too - girls who were more athletic and more popular. People close to me advised me not to bother, but I was determined. I spent many hours alone in our garage jumping and tumbling with no help or encouragement. I also had to try out five years in a row before I made the squad, but I didn't give up. I'll never forget the feeling when I finally earned that uniform and cheered at my first game, my freshman year of college.

Through the years I haven't always exercised that kind of persistence, but whenever I face a real challenge I try to remember, you can't hit a homer without putting in a lot of lonely hours swinging the bat.


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