Opinion: The Nitty Gritty Truth


Annette Brunner

The JV softball team lines up for their pregram routine.

Alright, you want the truth? Well, the truth is, this school softball season didn’t go quite as I planned it to. I didn’t break any school records. I didn’t hit a grand slam. Heck, I didn’t even play on varsity, and I’m a junior. But the truth? I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. 

You see, sometimes things don’t happen as you imagine they should, and despite how you feel, it is for the best. If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would hand in my varsity uniform before the games even started, I would’ve looked at you like you have three heads. I mean, trade the opportunity to play on varsity for another season on JV? Who does that? I do. 

Now I want to be clear. I’m not writing this to brag or publicize my decision to retract my position on varsity. In fact, I’d prefer that no one knew. Quite honestly, it probably makes me look bad, like I’m some egotistical cry baby. Well, whether you are a college coach, a family friend, a peer, or some random person who came across this article, I want you to know something: I did not quit because I have an ego. I quit because I have no ego, because I have self-respect for not only me but my teammates, and because I have the guts to stand up for myself. 

At the beginning of the season, during the time I spent with varsity, I was so mentally and physically tired I could hardly function. Sleep was few and far between, mental breakdowns had become a norm, and simply waking up was a struggle. My teachers and peers started noticing a tremendous difference in my personality and started to worry. It was kind of scary, seeing myself change like that. I could feel my mental health slowly deteriorating and didn’t know what to do. I went from strong and confident to looking in the mirror and pointing out all the flaws. I was even starting to second-guess my abilities and all the hard work I had done. 

Everyone around me was aware of what was happening. The spark had finally died, or so they thought. 

In total, it took me two weeks to realize that this varsity team was not for me. Coming home in a bad mood and crying in the shower just wasn’t working anymore. After multiple discussions with my parents, we finally decided that it would be best for me to hand in my jersey. Originally I planned to quit altogether, no school ball whatsoever, but something about that didn’t sit right with me. Number one, I wasn’t raised a quitter and two, I couldn’t leave the JV girls. 

At that point in time, the JV softball team only had eight girls, not enough even to field a team. On top of that, they only had one catcher. I knew that these girls needed me, at the very least, to just be another body on the field. But little did I know, I needed these girls way more than they needed me. 

Moving from varsity to JV was a night and day difference. Not only was there less pressure to prove myself, but the aura of the girls and the atmosphere of the team was just overall healthier. I went from dreading waking up every morning, to looking forward to getting to go to school every day. These girls boosted my confidence on the field but also became my sisters, and I would do absolutely anything for each and every one of them. 

Despite the stereotypes of a junior playing JV, I enjoyed every moment. From the dance parties to the locker room ‘tea sessions’, to the many TikToks sent in our group chat there was never a dull moment. Even when Coach Dale Vangen treated us to ice cream after big wins. I would take all the rude comments and judgemental looks in the world for another year with Coach Vangen and the girls. 

Although this season did not end up as I had planned, I am so glad that God took me for a plot twist. Overall, the JV season went extremely well, we ended up being SWOC Champions. But beyond that we also learned to lean on each other and that together we accomplish so much more than we could apart. 

Looking back, it makes me a bit emotional to think of my decision to quit varsity. Not because I was upset, but rather because I knew that it symbolized so much more than what the average person can see. I not only turned my jersey in for myself, but this was my way of sticking up for those who can’t stick up for themselves, for the girls who feel like they don’t have a voice, and for the girls who feel like they don’t have a choice. This was my way of choosing myself, and my girls over a corrupted system. 

It wasn’t easy, but it was needed, and I am glad I got the opportunity to play with these girls and this coach. It might not have been what I was expecting but it was more than I could’ve ever imagined. So you want the truth? Well, here it is: the rugged, tear-filled, gritty truth is that it’s not about the label of the team. It’s about the love shared amongst the teammates and the dream.