Criticism by: Olivia badeau

Softball is a sport where girls throw and hit softballs, in which are not very soft, but hard indeed. After being hit with a softball, it stings. But fortunately, the stinging sensation wears off after a few seconds. Unlike this, words stick. They continue to sting the temporal lobe, reminding you of what others think.

Softball season was coming. The gates of Bentley Field were opening, softball pants were being bought, jerseys were being made, teams were uniting, and everyone was practicing. My friends and I have been playing softball since we were around five years old. We grew up together, learning everything we could about the sport and being the best players we can be.

Though we all work hard, some work harder than others. My friend named Jessica works especially hard. She’s petite, and skinny, unlike many other players in the sport. Because of this, she often has trouble keeping up with the level of her teammates. Everyone is growing, getting stronger, and getting faster, While she is almost the same size as she was in fifth grade.

In our sixth grade year, the tryouts of middle school softball were extremely nerve-racking. There were forty girls trying out, so there were no free spots to be given out, you had to be the best. Jessica deserved her spot on the team for she’d consistently worked harder than others, and showed her determination to be on the team. Finally, after two weeks of try-outs, we had made it. As sixth graders, not many of us played except for two girls. One of them was a girl named Marissa. She’s tall and fast, things that Jessica is not.

Marissa often boasted about her playing time in the field, as it was of great honor to play as a sixth grader, along with the best eighth graders in the town. Due to this, she decided that it was her duty to do what she thought of as helping the kids who weren’t as fortunate as her. She often made comments to us “bench-warmers” about our throws, swings, and our forms. This didn’t bother many of us, besides Jessica. Since this bothered Jessica, Marissa kept targeting her for the rest of the season.

Helpful criticism quickly turned into hurtful words as the season continued. Jessica dealt with it, attempting to give Marissa no sign of weakness or surrender. I was not aware of how Jessica felt at the time, for she tried hiding it, thinking it would help her get over it. The season ended, and Jessica moved on to do fantastic in her summer softball season.

With pure confidence in herself, she went to tryouts in the spring of seventh grade. Just as the year before, we made the team along with another friend of mine, named Ashley. Though Jessica was self-assured, Marissa’s snarky comments continued. Things such as “we’re playing a bad team today, so you might get to play”, and “Are you quitting next year? Cause this doesn’t seem to really be your type of sport.” were said. Comments like this made Jessica feel awful about her abilities and often made her want to quit the sport that she loved. Because of this, Jessica’s confidence dropped. She told herself that Marissa was right. Though she thought this, she continued playing. One night, Jessica told Ashley and I about what was happening.

Because Jessica was kind of shy and didn’t have the confidence to do so herself, Ashley and I decided it was our obligation to talk to Marissa about it. At the next practice, it was go-time.

Ashley and I walked up to Marissa and said, “We heard you were saying some not so kind things to Jessica.”

Marissa looked as if she was caught off guard as she answered, “well, she deserves it, she isn’t good.”

Ashley then said, “well, we are all trying our hardest, and her especially. Keep your comments to yourself next time would you?”

Marissa replied with, “Whatever.” and practice carried on.

Jessica was relieved to know that the harassment could be over. But sure enough, at the next practice, nothing had changed.

Marissa went up to Jessica and said, “I know you try, but you really just aren’t natural at this, and I’m just trying to help. So, watch me and you’ll know what to do.”

Jessica was instantly offended and decided something bigger had to be done. After practice, Jessica came up to Ashley and I and we talked about how Jessica should tell our coach about what was happening. So as planned, Jessica explained the criticism that she was receiving from her teammate to our coach, and something was done immediately. Marissa was called out of practice into the seventh-grade hallway and was given a talk by our coach. When she came back in, coach told Jessica that Marissa was given a warning for her behavior was unacceptable. Jessica was pleased that she would no longer receive hurtful comments from Marissa. Even now, Jessica still gets ridiculed for her lack of height and strength, yet she has never stopped working hard. Jessica has taught me that no matter how bad it stings, you can always heal.

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