Why I Love this Game!

Throughout my softball career I have been asked the burning question, "Why do you love softball so much?" As I was sitting at my desk this afternoon, I decided to finally sit down and write down my top five reasons why I love playing and coaching this great game:

1. Thrill of competition - As a pitcher/hitter, I had the opportunity to face continuous competition: Me vs. Hitter, Me vs. Pitcher, and Me vs. Me. The adrenaline and excitement I had during the most competitive battles of my career are what drove me to not only play this great game, but to work as hard as I could to win each battle I faced.

As a coach, I now have the privilege to help instill that same competitive drive in my athletes and teach them how to embrace competition and denounce fear.

2. Camaraderie/Friendship - I have met my lifelong friends through this game. The girls I played ball with know me better than anyone. They have not only been there for me through every loss, win and injury, but have been there for me through every life milestone. Four of my nine bridesmaids were girls I played softball with growing up! The kind of friendships you make through softball are one of kind.

I now have the privilege to coach and work with some of those lifelong friends and teammates on a daily basis. Not only do I get to continue my softball career as a coach, but get to work with my best friends while doing it!

3. Transferrable skills - Work ethic, leadership, teamwork, perseverance, adaptability are just a few of many skills I acquired from playing this great game. These skills have served me well in my past career with the Illinois Senate, my graduate career in Public Administration, and in my current role as a business owner.

I consistently reiterate to my students and athletes that this game is teaching you so much more than sports skills and drills, but so many life skills that you will carry on for a lifetime.

4. Life values - Softball has always taught me to value my health and the endless life opportunities I have had through sports. It constantly humbles me and reminds me to not take life for granted, and to thank God every day for the opportunity to play this game that so many wish they could play. While this game can be frustrating, it certainly is a blessing.

As a coach and instructor for the Baseball and Softball Education Foundation, my life mission is to not just develop great ballplayers, but great people. Teaching athletes the importance of humility, leadership, teamwork, emotional control and gratitude are key life lessons/values that will help them play this game better and lead a healthier/happier life.

5. My Home - Softball has always been an escape and a home for me. The softball diamond or the batting cages is where I have always gone for emotional release. I go here to let go of my problems and experience a joy that is comparable to none.

It is so important for young athletes to see the softball field as a safe place or escape, rather than as a workplace or somewhere that they fear. As a coach, my goal in life is to create a space that encourages not only competition, but pure fun and joy!

As my Dad would always tell me, "No one can take your joy for softball away!" The love I have for this game continues to fuel me and motivate me to be the best coach and person I can be every day!

~Tina Buck-Harth


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