IOWA CITY, Iowa -- There is a word that I recently came across while combing through Jon Koenig's video series from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: "zenosyne" or the sense that time keeps moving faster and faster. For the majority of our lives, we drift unaware through the current of time, forgetting that we possess a perpetual momentum, refusing stasis, always traveling forward.
My time as a student-athlete at the University of Iowa passed this way. Being a senior was only felt vicariously, as something that happened to other people. Then suddenly halfway through a season of lasts, I was leaning against the dugout fence at Indiana, looking out into the field before I walked out into the on deck circle. Chip high-fived me and said, "Let's go, Eight" and all of a sudden I realized that someday no one will ever call me that again. Someday, I wouldn't be number eight.
After the game, I remember thinking about how trivial it was to be upset about something like that. But then I came to realize that eight isn't just a number. Eight is a story. Eight belongs to the women who came before me and the women who will come after me. It reminds me that I belong to something bigger than myself. My jersey doesn't have "Repole" on the back because it was never supposed to be about me, it was meant to be about us, about Iowa and about what we stood for as a whole rather than a conglomeration of individuals.
I cannot tell you about championships won; my collegiate career was not a series of consistent outstanding performances. But I can tell you what it feels like to hit a homerun, something that our sport has come to recognize as the ultimate achievement. By an illusion that stems from the collision of timing and pitch selection, the balls appears to be thrown in slow motion and you know even before you swing that you're going to be rounding first base.
I cannot tell you about accolades; I was never an All-Big Ten award winner. But I can tell you about the smack of a ball against a worn pocket of leather as the afternoon sun beats on the back of your neck and the sky is an unnamable shade of blue and twenty of your closest friends are beside you, moving to the exact same rhythm.
Here is the point of everything I am trying to say: there have been no small moments during my four years at Iowa. Everything has been a big moment. Are there things I would have done differently? Absolutely. I would have trusted my abilities more. I would have framed each failure as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of using it to fuel a negative, self-deprecating fire. I would have made more of an effort to stop and rejoice in the blessings that were so abundant around me. I would have savored every moment that I had the privilege of slipping an Iowa jersey over my head.
Playing collegiate softball at this university was my dream. I was given the opportunity to pursue it and I hope I have done right by it. What else is there to say? I have loved this game, this cruel and beautiful game, for half of my life and someday very soon, it will slip into the past tense for me. As Jon Koenig so eloquently puts it, "Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order."
A simple "thank you" for the incredible opportunity I have been given to play at this university is inadequate regardless of the pretty words I use to convey it. I am so proud of the human being and the athlete I have become over these past four years. To put it simply, my experience as a student-athlete at the University of Iowa has given me the gift of becoming and I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this sport, this university, my coaches, my teammates and this program for shaping and guiding that journey.
With the last two series of Big Ten Conference play and graduation approaching, softball is closer to becoming something I did, instead of something I do. It is the bottom of seventh inning for me. My jersey is about to be taken off the hanger in my locker for the last time. The field crew is waiting to sweep away my cleat prints. The lights on Pearl field are about to be permanently dimmed. However, my love for my teammates, my coaches and this University will always be kept in present tense.