Softball seniors pass on their jerseys

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On March 12, the day before school was closed, our three seniors, Samantha Colon, Julia Hong, and Victoria Jameson, played their last high school softball game. We won that game, 14-10, and I’m proud to say we were able to start and end our season on a good note. It seems completely unfair that the last season of their high school careers, the one they’ve been working up to since their first tryout in their freshman year, was cut so short, but I think now is a good time to really look back and appreciate the seniors. I will always be sorry that the class of 2020 had to miss the latter part of their last year of high school, but I will always reminisce about the three years I got to spend with them. 

Sam, Julia, and Vic all started playing on the softball team in their freshman year. This means four years of practicing late nights in the gym, draining the field after it rained, getting holes in their leggings whenever they slid on the dirt, burning in the outfield as the sun beat down, stressing over being late to a game after school, and hauling huge equipment bags through the MTA. But four years on the softball team also means four years of making unforgettable plays, bonding over team picnics, sharing sunblock, lending socks, cheering at the top of their lungs, and building a family. 

On our team, jerseys are recycled, so seniors that leave pass their jerseys down to the incoming freshmen. This might seem like an unsanitary tradition: with the jersey comes all of the stains, dirt, and sweat of the person who wore it before. Though I agree that having personal jerseys would be beneficial in many ways, I also think that being able to represent someone that came before you is very meaningful. It really emphasizes the idea of family. Even though incoming freshmen will not have known these seniors, they will be wearing the numbers of three individuals that helped shape the family that is the Townsend Harris softball team. And don’t worry, our coach does a smell check to make sure we wash the jerseys well. 

In the short time that Sam, Julia, and Vic had to lead as captains, they demonstrated exactly what it means to put your team first, and to give your all to the game. Spring sports are different for student athletes, especially for seniors, because they take place at the last stretch of the school year. Schoolwork starts winding down, and sometimes it’s hard for a student to continue to dedicate time to their team. Vic, however, attended every practice and never made excuses, and even took time out of her schedule to perfect her pitching. Our coach said that Vic impressed her by working harder than any pitcher she had seen in the last seven years. She had a pitching coach on the side, and would go to extra practices throughout the week. I was also learning how to pitch alongside her, but my work could not compare to the dedication she had to getting better. We spent hours together learning and improving. She taught me to stay persistent and to always expect more of yourself. 

Even though she’d much rather be playing in the outfield, Julia would often have to fill in for catcher. Being a catcher involves a lot of heavy equipment, and long, long squats. And when she was asked to jump in even at the last minute, she would get on the field and play to her best ability. She never let the team down and was always someone anybody could count on. Coach Niki said Julia was “a young woman who led by example and was learning to step into the light as a leader both physically and verbally.” She taught me the value of sacrifice, and selflessness when it came to sports. 

You can’t play a softball game without cheering. That’s one thing I like about the sport: everyone is always involved and there is so much support that comes from the field, the dugout, and even the parents. In every sport I’ve ever played, I’ve never heard anyone cheer as loud as Sam. She was always the most energetic both on and off the field. No matter what kind of day she had before the game, she would pour her heart out during every play. Coach said Sam gave “her HEART and COMPLETE EFFORT,” and that she is “an athlete that kept the girls accountable on and off the field and led by example and worked hard to get herself to become a starter and valuable player.” As captain she was always on top of things and didn’t hesitate to get the team back on track. She taught me the importance of being the backbone for your teammates. 

At that last game in March, I remember waiting to line up to shake hands with the other team, as teams usually do after a game. Instead, we stayed in our respective dugouts and waved. Despite the awkward circumstance, there was so much joy. We were all smiling and laughing about the silliness of it all. And though the wave of a serious pandemic was brewing, in that moment, we were able to dwell in the happiness of being together as a team. We had just won our first game, at our home field. 

A message from our coach: “Michael Dell said, ‘It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path.’ Please do not let this missed opportunity be seen as a dark mark, instead take this life lesson and motivate yourselves, to take that leap of faith, to give it your all because you don’t know when opportunity will come knocking. You never know in life when things will be cut short. Take advantage, never give up, and have fun sliding into home.”

Photo courtesy of Kayla Kim, Multimedia Editor.