First let me begin with who I am.
My name is Mandy Lorenson and I am a Division II softball player at Fort Lewis College. I have been a part of their softball program for three years now. I attended and played for Pima Community College for a year after I graduated from Ironwood Ridge High School in 2016.
This upcoming year will be my last season of my career and my last year of going to school, at least for a little while. I am fortunate enough to be able to have one more year and continue to play without my last season in the hands of something no one could have controlled.
The Coronavirus has taken something away from each and every one of us. Whether that be your front row seats to a concert you have been dying to see, to not being able to walk at your college or high school graduation, or having a sport season taken away from those seniors who have dedicated their whole lives to their sport. We all have felt the affects of this virus in one aspect of our lives or another.
Yeah, now the NCAA has worked to grant those seniors another year of eligibility, but that doesn’t come close to making up for the feelings and emotions that the entire softball community, and other sport communities, felt when their coaches sat them down and had to give them the news that they were no longer able to compete for the remainder of their season.
Now, when it came our teams’ turn to receive the news of our season coming to an abrupt end, it is hard to go back and pinpoint exactly what was said.
As we received the news, I just remember everything around me becoming a blur. I could no longer hear my coach and the words she spoke. All I could focus on was my heart dropping into my stomach as I looked around at not only my teammates, but the seniors that stood with their heads hanging unable to control their tears.
The seniors on my team had been through a lot during their four years of playing for this program and now adding this to the list for them completely shattered my heart.
They had to fight and continue to fight to help turn the program into what it was becoming this season before it was all taken away from them.
They weren’t done fighting and their careers were far from over, but just like that, they no longer had the chance to finish their careers the way they were meant to.
They no longer had the chance to stand by us one last time to fight for the RMAC title. The one we were all wanting to get… together.
When the season got cancelled, I felt hopeless. I felt a loss greater than one I have felt in a long time.
Throughout my entire life, I have been at the softball field. I cannot remember a weekend growing up where I wasn’t at the softball field playing in a tournament or having practice. It has always been the thing that keeps me occupied. It had always been the thing that was the most consistent in my life. Now, with it being cancelled and school being cancelled and moved to online shortly after that, everything just felt off… it just felt different.
This was the time of the year where my life is planned out for me. I always would know what I would be doing on the weekends and also how each day of the week my days would look for me and all of the sudden, in literal blink of an eye, it was all gone.
It was all changed and dealing with that much change that fast hit me and put me into a sadness I knew wouldn’t last but I knew it would be there for a while.
After a couple long weeks of mopping, getting back home, and finishing out the semester, I started to see what had happened as an opportunity.
I all of the sudden wasn’t filled with anger and heartbreak; I was filled with a drive and motivation to get back up after being pushed down. But there is no lie that this entire experience hasn’t been heartbreaking and hasn’t been a punch to the gut. Shoot, not only did I have to sit out the season prior to this one, I had this season completely just taken.
This was supposed to be the year I came back stronger and better than before I got injured.
This was supposed to be the year I came back with a fight and a drive that would get me through to my last season.
Then all of the sudden, the hard work, the long days, the extra reps felt like it was for nothing.
But you can only have that outlook for so long before it consumes you and before it takes away the sight of why you started in the first place.
Why you have fought your way through every battle you have faced to get you to this place to be able to fight the battle that was put before you that you had not control over.
It was time to get back up and fight one last time with everything I had in myself because I knew in my heart that this was supposed to be my senior season. This was supposed to be the year that I was ending my career, but somehow, by the grace of God, I wasn’t having to make the choice on whether or not to take my extra year of eligibility. I wasn’t having to feel the heartbreak of not being able to walk at my college graduation. I was somehow all of the sudden the lucky one and I knew I had to make the best and take full advantage of this extra year I was given.
It wasn’t just about me anymore and the heartbreak that I had felt.
I knew I wasn’t just going to be playing for the reasons I have been playing for my entire career during my last season. I knew that this last season was going to be bigger than just those things.
After being a part of this experience and seeing just how fast something can be taken away from you and how you can never be certain, that you have to play for the days where you aren’t going to be playing anymore.
You have to take it day by day and take it play by play because you never know exactly when it is going to be your last play.
We all have an idea of when it is going to be and I am sure we have all thought about it countless amount of times, but so did the seniors from this past season. They all had the same general idea of when their careers were going to be ending and they all had an idea of how it was going to go down, but no one, not even in their wildest dreams, could have ever imagined ending their careers the way they did this season and for that,
You have to play for the love of it because you never know exactly when you are going to have to hang up your cleats and be done.