Softball and Much More

Lisa O'Grady

I was sitting alone on the front step of the school, worried about what I was getting myself into. It was the first day of softball tryouts my junior year, and I never even met my coach. I skipped the team meeting two weeks prior to tryouts, so I never got to meet her face to face. She is a gym teacher at the school, so I had seen her around all of the time. I was just too intimidated by her, so I never tried to talk to her. It turns out that this person that I was afraid to talk to at one point, has now had the biggest impact on my life, and taught me about softball and so much more.
Before I move on, I would like to give you some insight into the aspects of my coach's life. Her name is Kristin Politi and she lives in New York. She graduated from Rutgers University where she played softball for the Lady Scarlet Knights. She started to teach at Roselle Catholic right out of college; she was only 22 years old. She teaches gym and health, coached boys junior varsity soccer, and varsity softball. Last I heard, she was a few months shy of obtaining a Masters from Montclair State University. She is now engaged to be married in May.
The first day I met Kristin was at tryouts. As soon as she got there, she took attendance and introduced herself and her boyfriend to us. Her style of practice was one that I have never been introduced to before. We started off practice by taking a 15- minute run, and ending with sprint after sprint after sprint. I will never forget my first memory of Ms. Politi. It started to rain during the middle of practice, so the grass was slick. She was showing us how to round first base and head towards second the proper way, almost. She took the inside of the base while her friend, and former teammate, took the outside. She was making her turn and fell flat on her face. Everyone laughed at her-especially her boyfriend. It was at that moment that I realized two things: she had a great sense of humor and that softball would be fun.
The first time that I ever spoke to her was the day before she made the final cuts. I went up to her and asked her very sheepishly if I could talk to her after our next practice. First she asked me if I was going to quit. After I said no, she said, "Well then, sure you can talk to me." At this point in my life, I was having a lot of trouble and I was in therapy. This would require me to miss at least the first or last half -hour of practice once a week. I felt it necessary to tell her about this dilemma before she made a list of the final team. I was very scared. She was very understanding though. She asked a few questions, but she really seemed to understand.
I had only known Kristin for about a week or so when I went to her and trusted her with my deepest, darkest secret. I will never forget what she did for me, and the effort she put into helping. She might not think she did much, but she did in my eyes. She gave me a sense of security. I knew that if I ever needed to talk, or cry, she was there. I also knew that she would be honest with me and tell it like it is. I don't know how many times I found myself in her office sharing with her my thoughts and my fears.
When I became a senior, I was really scared of graduating and leaving her, and her guidance, behind. I was not sure yet of what college I was going to attend; she helped with that too. I did know that I was no longer going to be living in New Jersey. I think what scared me the most was knowing that I could no longer walk down that hallway everyday either before gym class or before and after school; and go in her office to talk or goof around. So my senior year, she was promoted to