Although I have cerebral palsy, it has never stopped me from doing the things I’ve wanted to do, including playing sports. One of the sports that interested me was baseball because my grandfather was a huge baseball fan and loved the New York Yankees until the day he died.
So when I got the chance to play baseball on a special team for people with disabilities, I jumped right on board just so that I would have a way to carry on my grandfather’s memory.
Baseball also gave me the chance to hang out with my physical therapy friends outside PT, but it also taught me so much about being an athlete. Here are seven life lessons that being an athlete taught me:
1. You can play sport despite your challenges.
The first time I hit a home run on my team, I realized that I was a capable athlete, cerebral palsy and all. It felt amazing to forget about my chair and celebrate my ability.
2. Always work hard (even if you don’t want to).
When I played baseball, I had to work out harder than I normal. However, I learned that if I wanted to be the best, I had to practice like the best. I learned to go the extra mile to succeed, even on the days when I didn’t even want to drag myself out of bed to go to practice.w
3. Sometimes, you have to put your differences aside.
Honestly, I couldn’t stand some of my softball teammates. Some of them would even gossip about my other teammates, which I didn’t think was very sportsmanlike. Still, I was there to play the game and be a team player. If my team wanted to win, we had to put our differences aside… and we did.
4. Practice makes perfect.
For a long time, I had trouble hitting the ball without a tee. Even though the process was frustrating, I practiced and practiced my skills. After a while, I was able to hit a quickly-pitched softball without flinching or feeling afraid. I was so proud of myself! Practice really does make perfect.
5. Don’t flirt with your teammates.
Not every lesson I learned in the outfield was about softball. When I was 13 years old, I had a crush on one of my teammates who also attended my physical therapy. One day, I was in the dugout with him, and he flirted with me. The attention was fun until my dad (who was a volunteer coach) caught me flirting back and scolded me. The moral of the story? Keep your flirty feelings to yourself!
6. Have hope.
At our championship game, my team was down by one point. Everyone in the stands doubted that we could beat our opponents, and even we started to lose hope. But at the very last second, one of our teammates scored a home run! We won the game because we knew that we had what it takes to succeed.
Overall, I learned many life lessons from being an athlete. If you try sports, you’re sure to learn these valuable lessons as well and fully realize everything you can accomplish with a team spirit.