I went to watch one of my pitchers this weekend. She was absolutely wonderful and I could not be more proud. Then, I recognized the catcher, who often comes to lessons with her.
It was 96 degrees and the evidence of two grueling games on this day had completely obscured the colors of her uniform.
This catcher, Allie, was in her element. The heat and humidity that stifled everyone else seemed to make her stronger. The way she carried herself in this heatwave seemed to assure the team that her shoulders were wide enough and her heart was big enough to handle anything that might come her way.
Allie is a catcher. Need I say more? Directing traffic, managing the pitcher, and carefully noting the umpire’s strike zone, a lot of people don’t notice her, but you can bet that her team is feeding off her energy. Allie is a catcher. Stretching for the rise, framing the curve, and blocking drop balls leave her bruised and fatigued. Warming up the pitcher, getting up and down a few hundred times, throwing back pitch after pitch, and quickly hustling to get the equipment on and off to bat, she realizes just how much she has been missing all of this. Like catchers across America in the last couple of weeks, Allie was back, and she was loving every painful foul tip, every call that did not go her way, and living for the chance to throw out a runner.
She was so immersed in the action that, when I asked to take a pic with her, she tried to put her arm around me and I had to recoil. I pointed at my white shirt and the dirt plastered to her arms, and only then did she seem to realize that she might have picked up a little dust along the way.
A quick pic, and Allie was back in action, the heat more intense, the dirt and sweat steadily accumulating, and that smile became ever wider.
It took me back to the days of coaching. When the heat was miserable and we began to wonder why we were out there, I would always ask, “What do we get to do today?” They all knew the answer, but it was our catcher, sweat-stained and battered who stood up and loudly proclaimed, “We get to play softball?” And, off we went.