A hundred years ago, I ran onto my home field for the very last time.
So I can empathize with Michelle, Brianna and Kayla. It do leave a mark when your career as a collegiate athlete comes to an end.
As Michelle’s teammate Kayla Massey said, “time goes by fast so take every moment and make it worthwhile.”
I think Michelle did exactly that.
Now I am not one for stats. I cannot recite her batting average, the number of innings played, on base percentage or anything about how well she performed for the University of Iowa the past four seasons.
But trust me, she did exceptionally well.
And though it will sting when she leaves Pearl Field for the last time, she definitely left her mark as a Hawkeye.
Like many of you out there, I have followed Michelle’s collegiate career from afar.
She made herself into a Big 10 softball player. Travelled all over the US of A competing with and against top-flight talent. Always doing her best. Forever chasing excellence. Relentlessly pursuing her passion.
She went out and did it.
But what I admire most about Michelle is her courage.
I guess that is what I also admire about Siena and Bekah too; her Highlander teammates.
First, that she had the courage to listen to that little voice within that simply asked her to “play on”.
Then, she had the courage to choose to start all over again, in a much deeper pool of talent.
As a freshman. Away from everything and everyone she had at home.
And keep up with her studies to boot.
Finally, she had to have the courage to go out and transform her thoughts and words into deeds.
So even as Michelle is about to write the final chapter to this part of her life, another one has already been started. The one that she will continue to pen from this point forward.
The best part.
Maybe this has already happened or will begin to happen this weekend.
But at some point, sometime, somewhere, some little girl will see Michelle as their role model, their mentor and their inspiration.
They will be drawn to her courage.
And they will want to play the game – and live their life – just like #14.
So you see Michelle, in certain respects, your playing days may be drawing to a close.
But in many ways, you aren’t ever really going to leave that diamond.
You will always “play on”.
Well done Miss Zoeller.
Well done indeed.