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Why Emily, a Talented Player, Quit... A true cautionary tale for parents and coaches.

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

It was a typically cold December morning and Emily was my last hitting lesson for the day. Immediately, I noticed she wasn’t wearing her normal happy. Usually, she bounced with every step and offered a joke with a bright smile each time she entered the hitting facility – but not on this day.

Also, I was struck by the absence of her parents, so I asked. She dropped her head and mumbled something about a fight.

Emily dropped her bat bag and took a seat upon a bench. I sat along beside her and encouraged her to talk.

Through tears, Emily let it all spill out. Years of frustration and a feeling of inadequacy stemming from her own perceived failures to meet the expectations of others had her reeling. By the time she finished talking, I felt a pit fully-formed in my stomach. My heart broke as I listened to what she had been keeping to herself.

Emily had been my hitting student since before she had started playing for her high school team. Like many of my students, she was serious about getting better, she never missed a lesson. Faithfully, her parents accompanied her each week to participate and see her progress.

Emily was a good hitter – a good student. Her parents were kind and supportive. Yet, on this day, Emily was sobbing.

She had started the conversation with a strong statement - “I don’t want to play in college.”

Emily was now a junior in high school and playing in college had seemed logical to her parents and those around her given her interest in lessons, her level of talent, and her on-field achievements.

She revealed to me that she had informed her parents that morning and they seemed confused and upset about the revelation. Adding to the difficulty, it crushed her to feel that she had let her parents down, which was precisely the reason she had hidden her thoughts for so long.

I asked Emily if she enjoyed playing softball and she quickly replied, “Not anymore.”