Diana WegglerWhen I was six, my father started the first-ever girls’ softball league in my hometown. When I was seven—after small-town politics prevented the girls from using the boys’ Little League diamond—he converted the corner of a relative’s hayfield into a softball field. I remember watching him as he removed rocks by hand, pulled a roller behind him to level the infield, mowed the outfield with a push-mower, limed the base paths, and hammered in spikes to anchor the bases.

When I was eight, I started playing second base. My older sister pitched. Our dad was the coach. In one memorable game, I let two easy grounders bounce through my legs and roll into the outfield. After the second error, I looked over at the bench and through tear-filled eyes begged my dad to take me out. Barely looking up from his scorebook, he shook his head no. I finished out the inning, and the game. I think we won, but that is beside the point.

I learned a lesson that day about not giving up—about staying in the game even when you have embarrassed yourself and let your teammates down. It is a lesson that has sustained me through many other sports experiences, but more important, through countless life experiences.

My athletic endeavors began on the softball diamond and continued on tennis courts, hockey rinks, and rugby pitches. Those venues are where I learned that you can make mistakes and still succeed—but only if you keep playing.

Winning at sports demands courage, commitment, and perseverance. Winning at life demands all that and more. Had I not developed these character traits as a young athlete, I would surely have given up on many challenges I faced as an adult.

My competitive playing days are over, but the lessons live on. Today I am caring for an elderly, disabled family member in my home—a task that requires daily doses of courage, commitment, and perseverance. When I find myself thinking, “I don’t know how long I can keep this up,” I remember the sacrifices my dad made so that I could play sports. Then I suck in my gut and power through another day. Sure, I might make an error or two along the way, but I’ll be damned before I ask anyone to take me out of this game.

For the Record,

Diana L. Weggler

Diana L. Weggler

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