Oh, the places you will go…if you play tournament softball!
Throughout my softball journey, I have been very blessed to see and play in so many amazing places. I started traveling for softball at the age of ten and since then I have played in 13 different states all over the country. Each new place I’ve been to comes with new opportunities and new adventures.
When I was ten years old I was on my very first tournament team. We played mostly local tournaments in Quakertown, Emmaus, and Landsdale. Our first major destination we went to was Ocean City Maryland. This would be my first time going to Maryland and I remember staying at the Flamingo Motel. I remember my family and I went to the Salty Dog for the first time and we went to Dead Freddies for a team dinner.
My next two years of tournament softball took me to many more places. My first national tournament was played in Hartford, Connecticut. We got 5th place overall and made so many memories. It was my first year of dance parties in hotel rooms, team dinners that always took way too long, and many games of softball. My next national tournament was in Sterling, Virginia. I remember the hotel we stayed at was the only one we’ve ever been to with an outdoor pool. I also remember going to this restaurant called Generous George’s that had the biggest pieces of pizza ever.
Softball would take me back to Ocean City, Maryland, a total of three more times. Each time we came in the top ten of the tournament. I remember when my team and I stayed at the Princess Royal and every single night we would walk across the street to Candy Kitchen and Sunsations. We would go swimming in the huge pool and my team and I would try our best to not get caught using the hot tubs because none of us were sixteen yet. Something else I remember was walking with my sister to get ice cream and cookie dough at Dodo every night on our trip last year.
Once my team got older we began to take even bigger trips. We would end up going to Nashville Tennessee, Space Coast Florida, Kansas City Kansas, and Gulf Shores Alabama. Something funny about all of these trips was that my family and I drove to every single one. We would never go on an airplane and fly to any of these places.
Nashville was an opportunity for our team to play competition from all over the country. We were the only team east of the Mississippi river to come. Something that was my favorite part of national tournaments was pin trading, and I got some of my coolest pins in Nashville. My team and I went shopping almost every single day at the huge mall across the street from our hotel. I also remember going into downtown Nashville to take in the sights and sounds.
Space Coast was a magical place for my team and I. The first time we went we got first place overall which was such an opportunity. I remember the feeling of our pitcher throwing the last pitch and creating a dog pile on the pitcher’s mound. We all put our gold rings on our fingers and we walked off the field together as champions. My team and I then went back to our hotel’s pool and had a huge karaoke party. Going back to Space Coast last year and getting third place was another time. This time came with many runs to chick fil a, a game that did not end until 12:30 in the morning, and getting breakfast at Planet Smoothie every single morning.
Kansas City is the furthest “west” I have ever been. Playing softball in Kansas against the best competition is another experience. Once again my team and I were the only team from East of the Mississippi and no one had ever heard of where we were from. Everyone was assuming we were from Vegas because our jerseys had an ‘LV’ on them. Our hotel in Kansas was in the middle of an outlet mall. My favorite part was when my team and I walked through the fountain in the middle of the mall after the mall closed late at night.
My last national tournament in Gulf Shores, Alabama, was an emotional experience. I got to share the field with my sister for the first and last time. It was my last time playing for my coach who I had played for my entire tournament ball career. My team and I got second place and the trophy we won was at least six feet tall. I remember my team and I walking to Target to get ice cream at night, playing indoor mini golf, and having two beach days.
All of these trips had their memories but something that sticks out the most to me was having my family with me through it all. I am so thankful for the opportunities I was given and the support my family gave me. Traveling for softball has shaped me into the person I am, but without my family none of it would have been possible.
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