Sara Larquier's Softball Journal
Feb. 1, 2006
Before I left home to come back Charlottesville, everyone asked if I was excited to go back. My response to them was that my arrival back to Charlottesville would be bittersweet. It was bitter for a few reasons – I was standing face-to-face with my last semester as a Virginia Cavalier. These past three and a half years have been nothing short of amazing, and I came back to Virginia not wanting it to end. I was not ready to begin my last season as a collegiate athlete. I have loved every minute of playing Division I softball and although the spring season is on its way, I did not want to think about parting ways with all my teammates and friends at the end of the season. The final reason why I did not look forward to coming back was because our team was to start off the season incomplete. Coach Johns had to take a leave of absence because her father was really sick and she needed to be in New Jersey so that she could be there with her family and take care of him. The arrival of our new coaching staff is something that has been amazing for our team and this unfortunate and trying event for Coach Johns and her family is sad to see so soon after so many positive changes have taken place in all of our lives. This was not the way we wanted to start the season off, but everything happens for a reason and we knew that Coach and her family would get through this together with a ton of support!
Despite the bitter parts about coming back there were many sweet things to look forward to. One of the best parts about coming back to Charlottesville was getting to see all my teammates and getting to hear about everyone’s breaks. After five weeks of being at home I really missed all my girls and could not wait to catch up with everyone. The atmosphere was full of excitement because we all knew that with the way our fall season had ended, our spring season would be great. I was happy to see everyone ready to go and anxious to start practice. Our first day of practice started with a conference call from Coach Johns. It was a hard call to make because we all knew how much Coach Johns wanted to be there with us to start the season, but we also knew how much her family needed her there with them. This call confirmed for all of us players just how much of a family our team really is, and made me thankful to be a part of such a great program. For me this especially hit home because I had already been down this same road and knew exactly was Coach was going through and how much she was hurting inside. Nonetheless, Coach was inspiring. In spite of the struggles at hand, she told us to work hard, do our best, and that she would be back with us when the time was right. Four days later Coach was at our practice and our team was complete sooner than anyone had expected. Our journey for excellence and an unforgettable season was well under way.
We picked up right where we left off in the fall with practice. Although we had a lot of work to do, the team was in shape and dedicated to making this season tremendous. Despite not being able to get outside right away, Coach Carie and Coach Iyhia made the best of the situation. Our first four practices were awesome. We were all on the same page and moving towards our goal. The toughest thing seemed to be hitting. We were taking a lot of reps in a short amount of time but it was what we had to do to be on track to becoming a championship team. Defensively we came out strong and continued to build on the foundation we had laid in the fall. Things continued to look up for us. In addition to Coach Johns being back sooner than we thought, we were able to get outside onto our field. We all know that being inside taking ground balls and fly balls is hardly ideal and is nothing compared to being on the field and in a normal game-like atmosphere.
Looking back on these past two weeks of practice, if I had to use one word to describe our team it would be committed. In the fall I thought we worked hard and made a lot of positive strides, but since being back at school and starting to practice together again, the team has surprised me. In the two short weeks we have been back, we have surpassed the level we had reached in the fall.
With this being said, I’m looking at my senior season with anticipation and excitement. The possibilities are endless. We know that our success is dependent upon our hard work and commitment. With this in mind we have begun climbing the mountain that is our 2006 season with eagerness and fearlessness, in search of the ACC Championship and more.