“Now that you know my story, go create your own.” Have you ever thought about what you would say to the next athlete who gets your uniform? “You will make thousands of mistakes, but that is how you learn”.
These quotes came from 12U travel players in Nebraska. As they moved to the next age group, their coach asked them to write a letter to the next player who would be issued their uniform number. We read quotes like, “I turned my small dream into a huge dream come true, and I know you can do it”.
This coach was building a culture, developing a pride in ownership, and demonstrating that this team is more than a team. The name of the coach is Kellee Vornhagen, who is involved in softball, and the lives of these kids, in so many ways. She wanted to establish the feeling of belonging to something larger than yourself, showing how we all struggle, but together we conquer.
The theme of the letters was, “What softball means to me.” As she read letters, the genuine, heart-felt emotions of her players came through, and Kellee said it brought her to tears. She was so impressed that she copied each letter. In a few years, those will be returned to their authors, reminding them of the beginnings, the love of the game, the dreams, and why they were excited to play.
“Passing the torch”. That is how Kellee put it. She said that this is just one way they want each generation of softball players to serve as role models for the next, and they have active mentoring programs for older players to share their love of the game, their experiences, and the things they learned along the way with members of younger teams.
In today’s softball environment, it is easy to lose your way, to feel pressures from outside, to get caught up in national rankings and the stress of recruiting. Sometimes, going back to the beginning, sharing with mentors, learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before, and being reminded to play for the love of playing is just what you need.
We respect Kellee Vornhagen for helping spread that message. That is the type of person with whom we like to be associated, and that is why Kellee is now going through the process of being considered for an Instructor Candidate with us. We love people who will push us, raise our game, and help remind us, as Instructors, why we started our own journeys in the beginning.