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May 17, 2017

My Final Goodbye
By: Kaitlin Manuel

Even at the most unsure of times, there is a plan for all of us.

I was coming off an ACL/meniscus surgery as a senior in high school, which meant I wasn't being recruited as much as I had hoped. I was devastated, so much that I almost quit.

The February before graduation, when I was so unsure of my future, a plan fell into place. I had gone on an official visit to the University of Pittsburgh and it was decided that I would walk on to the team.

Fast forward to May 7, 2017.

I woke up in my hotel bed, turned off my alarm and checked social media as I do every morning. However, instead of immediately getting up after and starting my morning routine, I sat in bed a little longer.

I thought about softball. I thought about how this could be the last time I get up in a hotel with a teammate as my roommate, the last time to blast music together, the last time to do my game-day hair and braid others hair. It could be the last time I put my uniform on, pull up my socks, throw on that beautiful Pitt script jersey and slide into my pants.

I never thought about my morning routine before a game since it was what I did every game day, even as a little kid. But, after thinking about it, I suddenly wished I could do it every morning for the rest of my life.

On May 7, I only had one more day to play this wonderful game. One more day to play the game I love, to celebrate with my team, to fight back to win a game, to make a diving play or to hit a runner in. I sat in the dugout loving and cherishing every moment and aspect of the game. I gave the sport all I had left in my tank, 110 percent of what my body had left.

Walking away from the field that day was different because I no longer would step back onto another diamond to play competitively. Yet, after crossing the foul line into our dugout for the very last time, I had never felt more of a want to play again. I was ready to go and play two more games that day but instead my time as a Pittsburgh Panther came to a close. I walked away not because I wanted to, but because my time was up.

I was truly blessed to be able to play this game for so long. There is nothing more special than God's gift to play softball, but the game is not just a game to me. It became my life, my passion, my biggest pain, but also my first love. I am lucky to have created so many fond memories and lasting friendships during my time playing this sport and that is what I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

For any young girl unsure of her future or if she will be recruited, I challenge each one of you to continue pursuing and pushing until your dream becomes a reality. The road may be windy and bumpy, but when you arrive at your destination, take a step back and reflect. Remember that in the end this is just a game and that softball, or any sport for that matter, is a privilege to play. We as collegiate student-athletes are blessed day in and day out to have the chance to step out onto the field again and again.

With that being said, it is with a heavy heart that I must hang up my cleats and say goodbye to this unforgettable game.

Goodbye softball, thank you, and as always, Hail to Pitt.

Kaitlin Manuel
Kaitlin Manuel: My Final Goodbye

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