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A summer of hard work

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Join Stephanie Peace as she shares how she used falling short of the post season last year as motivation for achieving that goal this season

Last May our team came so close to making the regional tournament and moving on to the post season. Coming up short left a bitter taste in my mouth and I used that as a little extra motivation through the long summer break. When I left Madison at the end of the spring I was disappointed, but not discouraged. The 2012 season was such an exciting experience and every bit of it made us better. With such a large returning class and so many young faces, it is exciting to be a part of Wisconsin softball.            

When I returned home to Texas at the beginning of the summer I flew directly into College Station. I wanted to watch a couple of my best friends play in the Texas A&M regional tournament. I wanted to know what the atmosphere was like during a regional tournament and I wanted to see great softball being played. With each game I watched in the post season, I became more excited and more motivated. I want to be at a regional tournament next May. I know that our team is capable of competing in the post season with the top sixty four teams in the nation.      

After the regional tournament my parents and I drove home to San Antonio, and I went to work. I was happy to be home with my family and old friends, but I ran, lifted and hit multiple times a week. I worked out alone mostly, but sometimes I would drag old teammates to my workouts with me. I focused on footwork and speed nearly every time I practiced this summer. I ran hill sprints, ladders, base running and changing direction drills.

I am fortunate to have played, and now coach, for a summer ball organization that owns an indoor softball facility. They allow me to come and practice on their field and hit in their cages. Although the facility was inside, it was no shelter from the Texas heat. The building has no air conditioning and no fans. I would usually work out in the evenings and night to avoid the hottest part of the day. I was definitely a cage rat, though. When I went to the facility I was there for hours. I would turn on some country music and work on every part of my game. I took my time with my workouts and skills; I didn't want to waste my effort.         

I spent most of my weekends coaching an amazing group of high school aged girls. They were so much fun to be around. All of these young ladies spent the summer working and preparing to play at the college level. We travelled all over the state of Texas and to Oklahoma and Mississippi. They competed with some of the best teams in the nation and in front of dozens of college coaches.

I mostly worked with the outfield players, but I also worked with the hitters. I used drills we use here at Wisconsin, and they loved the challenging workouts. With each drill we ran in practice, I reiterated to the girls and myself the basic fundamentals of the game. I reminded myself that it wasn't long ago that I was in my players' shoes wanting to be a division I athlete. Coaching helped me pick up on some of the finer points of the game. Coaching was a great learning opportunity and I enjoyed working with such dedicated young athletes.          

In my first two years as a Badger, the program has grown and improved. It has been an exciting adventure with a great group of girls and coaches. I cannot overlook the opportunities I have been blessed with and the people I have been able to share it with. Coach Healy said today that, "the harder you have to work for a goal, the more meaningful an achievement becomes." I agree. The journey to a post season tournament means more with each year it eludes us. I used internal and an external motivation, this summer, to drive me to be a better athlete. I want our team to be successful and I know that I can play a part in that. I know that I have a wonderful opportunity here at the University of Wisconsin. Not to give full effort wastes the talents and opportunities I have been given.

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