For athletes who begin playing at a young age, the earliest memories are often the fondest. Yet sometimes, they are the easiest to forget.
However as time progresses, middle school, high school and college sports develop a different mindset within its players. As much as athletes enjoy playing, the pressures of competition can begin to plague them. The pleasure of playing is sometimes lost.
Senior pitcher Emily Sorem came into this season wanting to revive that mindset. She said she attributes this desire to improve the team’s mindset after working as an intern in the Special Olympics office in Oregon this past summer.
Though working in an office environment may not match the daily physicality and mentality a student-athlete endures, Sorem said she found her interactions with younger athletes “gratifying.”
“Seeing the impact my work had on all of these people’s lives was extremely rewarding for me because sometimes the office can be kind of monotonous, and seeing the end result is super awesome,” Sorem said.
During her time as a Special Olympics intern, Sorem not only helped in the office, but also at games and events. Sorem recalls watching the softball games and track and field events and seeing the expressions on younger athletes who were competing.
It was watching these games that reminded her of her own childhood love for softball.
“Seeing how much passion and how much joy they get from playing reinvigorated the little kid in me who always liked softball,” Sorem said. “I definitely went into the season differently because of this.”
Sorem’s coach and teammates praised her for her newfound mentality. She has found a way to make the game more fun while maintaining her composure during competition.
Freshman Carley Barjaktarovich said Sorem is helping the team recognize this mentality.
“You’re going to fail a lot during game — maybe even more times than you succeed, especially at the plate — and it’s a very good mindset to have, and she taught me a little bit of that,” Barjaktarovich said. “Be happy and brush it off. If something doesn’t go your way get the next one.”
Coach Fran Troyan, agrees with Barjaktarovich. He said she does not allow herself to get caught up in her own head because she is already thinking about the next play or how to lift her teammates’ spirits.
“Whether she strikes somebody out or gives up a hit, her demeanor never changes and that’s a good thing for her to have,” Troyan said. Troyan said she is an incredibly talented pitcher who is very supportive of her teammates. On Saturday, Sorem pitched the 14th no-hitter in program history, and the first nine inning no-hitter ever for the Mountain Hawks.
As a senior, Sorem will no longer be able to provide this kind of support next season, buts she still has high hopes for the team.
“We have a lot of very good, very young players, so I’m expecting a lot in the future for them,” Sorem said.
Sorem’s teammates will look to continue to maintain a similar mindset in the upcoming seasons.