Invisible to Invincible


Reina Frame

Gracie Elliott standing with her select softball coaches Kris Tegeder, Kavin Morgan, and Kevin Smith(left to right, not picture Jeff Michael).

As Lisa Nichols, a world-renowned motivational speaker and author, once stated, “The beauty of me being one of the top 1% earners in America is that I was on government’s assistant, that’s the beauty… it wouldn’t be a big deal if my family was rich.” 

The beauty of my story is not that I started out strong and confident, knowing where I would end up but that I was once weak, I started out broken and hurting with not a clue where I would end up. Yet by the grace of God I survived, and I’m here to tell the story. That’s the beauty. 

If you would’ve asked me a few years ago about playing softball in college I would’ve said, “I don’t really think I’m good enough.” If you would’ve told me a few years ago that I would one day be committed to playing softball in college I initially would’ve been speechless, probably cried a little, then finally croak out, “Are you serious?” 

Before I continue sharing my story of how I went from “there’s no way,” to “God made a way,” I want to tell you that wherever you are right now, it’s not the end. If you’re like how I was, second-guessing your abilities, and more importantly God’s abilities, take a moment to just breathe. This is not the end of your story, other people don’t get to tell you where you’ll end up, that’s God’s job. 

For years I had lived my life as a timid young lady with low self-esteem. I was very naive and believed virtually anything people said about me, especially the negative. My foundation was not in Christ, and because of this, I was easily torn apart when things didn’t go my way. One rumble of trouble and my walls came crashing down. 

So when God decided it was time to rebuild I didn’t understand why. I couldn’t wrap my head around his reasoning. He refused to give me a softball team for seven months and forced me to start training with a man that was harder on me than any trainer I had before. I was hurt, lost, and searching for answers. It wasn’t until months after that experience that I finally got the clarity I prayed for. 

You see when a house’s foundation is bad, you have to knock down the entire house, take out the foundation and build everything again, from the ground up. That’s what God had to do with me, and to do so he knew he had to break me down to the bone. However, he didn’t just break me down and leave me there, he gave me the tools I needed to rebuild. While yes it was painful, it was the best thing for me. 

James 1:2-3 states, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 

After withholding me from a softball team, God had me start training with a man named Vince Valentino. At the start, I had no idea that this trainer would end up being one of the biggest blessings in my entire life. Although I’m only seventeen years old, I can honestly tell you that’s the truth. My life would’ve taken a very dark turn if God hadn’t placed him in my path. 

Over the course of 10 months, Vince trained me in hitting, throwing, fielding, and lifting. During the process, I could only sense how I was getting stronger physically, not mentally. Looking retrospectively I see the drastic change in my mental health. Vince pushed me past my limits, he tested my mental strength, but unlike my past coaches, he genuinely believed in me. Vince instilled in me the confidence I hadn’t known I needed. He helped to learn how to stick up for myself against people who didn’t think I was good enough, and how to finally believe in myself. 

It was with this newfound confidence that I was able to try out for a select team last March. After getting offered a spot on the team, I knew in my soul that this was the beginning of something amazing. However, little did I know, the coaching staff of this team would come to be the most encouraging group of coaches I’ve had in my life so far. 

Throughout the course of last summer I had arguably my best season yet, and when I couldn’t figure out what made that season different, I looked around me. The difference was that I had coaches who truly believed in me, and not only did they say that, they acted like it too. They called the risky plays because they knew I could handle it. They put me in tough situations because they knew I would succeed. This was nothing like what I was used to, but God knew exactly what he was doing.

It was because of my coaches Kris Tegeder, Jeff Michael, Kevin Smith, and Kavin Morgan, and my trainer Vince Valentino that I made it to play softball at the college level. I thank each and every one of them for taking a chance on me when nobody else would, and for showing me what a truly loving coach looks like. Along with this, I thank my family, my loving mom Veronica and my dad James, my sister Sam and my little brother Tucker for supporting me through it all. There were many people who encouraged me over the years and I thank them too, but above it all, I send a special thank you to the people who told me I wouldn’t make it. It’s because of you that my testimony is so great.

Last but most certainly not least, I give praise to our Father in heaven. It’s only because of His grace that I made it to where I am today. Only by Him placing these people in my life, and working things out the way he did that I ended up here. After all, I only got one college offer, one. I didn’t have options, I was given an opportunity, and that was enough for me. 

If I had the choice to go back in time and change what I went through, all of the less than desirable experiences, I wouldn’t change a thing. For a long time, I wish I could’ve, but I now understand that those things are what make this story so beautiful, so unlikely, and so powerful. 

“Your story is not meant to be your fortress, it is meant to be your fuel,” stated Nichols. 

If you only take one thing away from this article I hope it’s this, don’t ever let anyone tell you what you are and are not capable of accomplishing. People will try to cut you down and as you rise in the ranks the people who encourage you will become few and far between, so keep them close to you. Most of all, do not give up, not on yourself, not on your dream, and certainly not on your faith, the devil tries his hardest when a breakthrough is the closest.