My name is Emma Hawthorne. I am a softball player at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where I’ll be a fifth-year senior this fall.
I appreciate Mr. Stallard and the Longview News-Journal for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences this summer while playing in the inaugural season of the Florida Gulf Coast league for college softball players.
I started playing softball when I was four years old while living in Shreveport, Louisiana. This consisted of playing city league, and my team was called the Sunflowers. It was not until I moved to Hallsville in second grade that I began to play in travel ball tournaments with the Dugout Divas from Carthage.
I was fortunate enough to play for numerous outstanding organizations including Anderson Express, Tanel 360, and then I ended my travel and summer ball career with the Sneaky Cleats. In addition to my travel ball experiences, I was blessed to play for the Hallsville Ladycats for four years where we compiled an overall record of 131-19 and a district record of 46-2. In 2015, we were also state semi-finalists.
In February of 2015, I achieved my lifelong dream of receiving and accepting an offer to play softball at Northwestern State. I started at catcher my freshman and sophomore seasons and transitioned to third base my junior and senior year.
Like many other student athletes, I was shocked and devastated when spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were having a great season, and had our sights set on making the NCAA tournament. I thought my softball career was over until the NCAA granted us an extra year of eligibility, which I was extremely thankful for.
In April, I was excited to learn about the Florida Gulf Coast Softball League. Like all other collegiate softball players, we thought our summer softball experiences were over once we started college. I am really looking forward to this upcoming season because summer softball always provided me with the opportunity to play against great competition and improve my skills while also building friendships that will last a lifetime.
I have played softball for the last 17 years simply because of my love for the game, the challenges it presents, and the thrill of achieving success with my teammates. This game has taken me all over the United States and given me experiences that I will cherish forever.
Most of all, however, the game has taught me life lessons that will have a positive impact on my life forever. The COVID-19 pandemic has made me realize how important it is to cherish every moment and live life to fullest, because it can all be taken away from you in a heartbeat.
My goal of playing this summer is to help me be the best player I can possibly be when I return to Northwestern State in the fall and make the most of my last year of playing the game I have loved since I was four years old.