Bottom of the 9th - Record Keeping
by Meredith Weide
I donâ€™t remember much about my statistics from high school or college sports. I was lucky to live in rural Kansas where everyone in school was kind of expected to do everything, in order to field teams. At the University of Kansas I naively thought you just walk on and compete at the collegiate level, same as in a small town. NaivetÃ© can sometimes serve one well. My memories of sporting competitions left me feeling successful and satisfied by the experiences, simply because I competed and gave it my all. I cannot tell you my highest scoring basketball game, or my best time in the half mile, or any record high jumps. What do I remember? I remember ... the smell of cramergesic in the locker room; driving an old pickup truck around the track to drop off hurdles; having our principal come sheepishly into the girlâ€™s locker room to encourage us; hearing announcers mutilate my name (Mercedes Heineken); goose bumps on top of sunburns at track meets; jammed fingers that made my piano teacher cringe; hearing my motherâ€™s cough in the stands and knowing my parents were there once again; a basketball teammate who struggled with life and school and herself, but never missed a corner shot; running the sale barn road in a group workout and stopping at Myerâ€™s for a coke (our version of Muscle Milk!); all night bus rides; driving home in the dark countryside after games and practices. Mostly, I remember the friendships. I cannot tell you who was the fastest or strongest or who competed beyond high school, but I can conjure up the smiles and tears and grit of every face that was ever a teammate or coach.
I thank God for teammates who communicated volumes with a pat on the shoulder. I thank God for coaches who said, â€œHeinen, youâ€™re playing like a girl!â€ (maybe not at the time, but I do now!). I thank God for parents who encouraged and cheered performance and effort above victory. Competition was about giving your best and hoping your opponent did the same. There was no exuberant celebration nor were there tears of regret when a competition was complete. The experience was the ultimate achievement. The shared goal was to participate within the rules of the game, showing sportsmanship and compassion, and humbly celebrating successes in small moments. The 1st Corinthianâ€™s quote below is most often associated with romantic love, but let me encourage you to read it again with me. This time, think about being part of a team and the relationships among teammates and coaches and parents. When I think back on the years I spent competing, this is what I remember about that time, and it makes me feel like a winner no matter what the record books may say.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13.4
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