By: Kaylee Darnell
For the last three and a half years, I’ve been writing the sports stories for the Preface, but this story is different. This time, I’m signing off and saying goodbye. This is such a bittersweet feeling…it hurts so much to close one chapter, but knowing you’re about to turn the page to the next chapter is so exciting.
I was so hesitant about joining The Preface all those years ago, because the thought of juggling school, softball and a job scared me; but I am forever thankful that I decided to take the chance. Being able to express my voice and show my knowledge and love of sports every week for the last couple of years has been one of my favorite things about college.
Five years ago, I officially became a college student and a college athlete; but most importantly, I started to become the best version of myself. During my five years here (thank you Covid for the extra year of eligibility for softball), I truly became who I am today and who I am supposed to be.
I will forever be grateful for my years at The Preface and being named the first ever Sports Editor. Thank you all for trusting me with my knowledge of sports and hoping I knew what I was talking about week after week. Thank you for always understanding my intense schedule because of softball but always believing in me, understanding the hard times, and helping me along the way.
One of the things I will cherish for the rest of my life is the fact that I got to continue playing softball into the collegiate level, because only about 6 percent of high school athletes continue on. Knowing that I beat the odds and got to live my dream for a little longer continued to push me to work my hardest and be my best every day.
Also, having spinal fusion surgery at 16 really changed me. From having a 20 percent chance of paralyzation and a 50 percent chance of ever playing softball again, it really puts it into perspective when I think about how lucky I’ve been. Aside from signing off from The Preface, I think hanging up my cleats for the final time will hurt the worst.
As I am finishing my send off, I want to thank all my professors from the last five years for always believing in me and teaching me everything they could. I want to thank my fellow Preface writers, because without all of you I wouldn’t even get to write this, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time here. Thank you to my teammates, from the start of my college career until the end of it. Getting to play with my best friends every day makes it all worth it; you all continue to push me and believe in me, and I will forever be grateful. Lastly, thank you to my mom, dad and brother. Without the three of you, I don’t know how I would have survived the last five years. You three are my backbone and the reason for who I am today. I love you.
Moving on into the real world is scary. There are so many questions and so many ‘what ifs’ waiting around the corner. I’d be lying if I said I was fully ready, because I know I’m not. Everything is about to change, but it’s about to change for the better, and I know I’ve got the resources, the knowledge, the heart and the support behind me.
I hope one day you all can look at your TV screens while watching a sports game (hopefully baseball, crossing my fingers) and you can see me there. I hope I’m there commentating the game, interviewing the players and living out my dream. I hope one day some little girl can see me on her screen during her favorite team’s game and see me doing a ‘man’s job’, and think, “wow, I want to do that too”. I want to push every little girl who was ever told she knew nothing about sports, or that she wasn’t athletic enough, or that she should stick to the ‘girly stuff’, to go out there and prove everyone else wrong, but most importantly…prove herself right.
To anyone who read any of my stories in the last three and a half years, and to anyone reading my final sendoff; thank you for being here for the ride, and thank you for growing alongside me.
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”