Photo by Jessica Olvera.
By Jessica Olvera, Co-Sports Editor
Dear 17-year-old Jessica,
I am writing to you as a college graduate — yes, you read that right: You made it! You have so much to be proud of and have overcome a great deal, yet, I’m sure you’re feeling extremely unsure about yourself and worried about the obstacles and triumphs you will face in the next five years. There’s going to be more hard times than it is great, but you will come out as a better individual because of it.
You’re probably feeling disappointed in yourself at the moment because you ended up at a junior college due to past sports injuries that limited recruiting options, but, trust me when I say this is going to be the start of the best three years of your life at Mt. San Antonio College. The three years that you’re going to spend here are going to shape a solid foundation for yourself to look back on when the going gets tough in life.
I know there are endless expectations being placed on you that scare the living hell out of you but use that brave and confident front that you have been putting on for the majority of your life to your advantage.
Before you get ready to take your first rigorous college conditioning test that consists of completing 15 full gassers in under 18 seconds each, you need to know that you’re not a quitter, no matter what. You’re going to want to just quit but know that everyone is watching you. And when I say everyone, I mean every single one of your teammates and coaches are watching to see if you are mentally tough and can push through your breaking point. This is where your heart and resiliency are first going to be revealed to them.
You’re going to have a very successful freshman season and earn numerous accolades, but life has a funny and often unfair way of knocking you down. Literally. At the beginning of your sophomore fall season in a game against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, you’re going to tear the root of your meniscus in the same knee that you previously tore your ACL/lateral meniscus. Your season is done and you have to make the decision to redshirt even though you were at your peak in your athletic career.
You’re going to cry. A lot. And it’s going to hurt sitting in the stands watching your teammates play on that same field where you experienced so much together while you take nine months to recover. But this is going to make you more resilient than ever and a better teammate. Trust me, your time will come. Be PATIENT.
Your 2018 comeback season is going to be a rollercoaster with not being able to pitch at your full potential and dealing with setbacks from your Lupus disease. But all the sacrifices, pain, tears, and heartache will be worth it because you’re going to become a softball state champion and have the once in a lifetime experience of being at the bottom of the dogpile with your teammates jumping on top of you. Cherish this moment as much as you can.
After transferring to California State University, Dominguez Hills to continue your education and softball career, you need to understand that you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea no matter how hard you work.
Your playing career will come to an end sooner than you expected and in an unfair manner that you’ll never be able to understand, but this is where the true tests begin. The game that you have dedicated so much of your life to will be taken away due to the simple fact of someone not knowing your worth. Egotistical people with a sense of superiority will tarnish all the hard work and heart you have given this game.
However, it will become a problem when you speak your mind and stand up for yourself. It seemed that speaking your opinion or demanding an explanation for the unfair treatment was a problem for the people going against you. As the days went by and the pain began to reside, you remembered that you have a lot to be proud of in yourself. You are brave, strong, a hell of a good ballplayer, and definitely worth it.
So be kind to yourself, appreciate all of life’s lessons, know that things happen for a reason, and tell your parents and grandparents thank you for all of their sacrifices. You’re the first person in your family to graduate college. You are and always will be good enough no matter what. I’m so proud of you.