written by Jessica Maier
Southern Connecticut State University
“Jess, let’s go play catch outside,” my dad yells up the stairs. I lace on my sneakers and head outside. My dad is opening my orange softball bag that matches my team’s colors, searching for my glove and the extra ball I keep in it. In no time we are out in the road throwing the softball back and forth. This is how I can remember most Saturday mornings beginning. My name is Jessica Maier and I am a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University.
Since I can remember, my dad and I had always been doing something active together. Whether it was throwing a softball outside, shooting hoops, or him passing the field hockey ball to me with his own ice hockey stick. No matter what sport I was working for, he was always there to help me with my skills or simply there for encouragement. When it came to sports, it was easy for him to guide me. He knew the right things to say to get me to work harder (even when we butted heads) and how to make sure I was well prepared for high school and college sports. My dad has always been there to encourage me to be the best that I can be. There was nothing better than seeing my dad at every single sports game, either coaching or cheering me on. It was the support system that I needed and loved. Even if he had to leave work early or drive me an hour away early in the morning for a game, he was there watching and supporting me.
The toughest moments in life come from when you have to start from scratch again. Last year, I tore my ACL and medial meniscus in a field hockey game. My dad had my back during the entire recovery process (literally, he carried me 50 years off the field to the car because I could not walk). But I had 9 months from the date of my surgery until I was going to pre-season for college field hockey and my dad was there pushing me the entire time. He drove me to my physical therapy appointments, my post-operation appointments, to the gym, and to the field again. And when I was finally able to drive myself again, he made sure to remind me every day that I needed to work out, “Do your exercises Jess, you do not want to redshirt your freshman year.” So, I made it to the gym everyday or worked out with my trainer to build back the muscle that I lost. I was cleared to play 2 weeks before I left for pre-season and luckily, through all of my dad’s encouragement and my hard work, I started and played in every single game and was my team’s leading scorer this past fall season.
Not only did he support me in sports, but has guided me in life as well. He has always encouraged me to be the best person I can be, always doing the right thing. Looking back, I owe a lot of my character and good decision making to him. Since coming to college though, I have not had my side-kick around to tell me what the right decisions are. Thankfully, he had 18 years to teach me the basics of what was the right thing to do. I ended my first semester of college with a 4.0 while playing a Division 2 sport. Without his guidance during my early years, I would not have been able to achieve that. I knew the right thing to do was to start my assignments right when I got them, go to study hall, get more work done, and get a good night sleep. I planned each day out ahead of time in order to make sure my stress levels were in check and I was doing everything right. I spent my weekends writing essays and preparing for the week ahead. My hard work paid off throughout the semester. He has truly been my rock and continues to encourage, support, and push me to be the best that I can be, in everything that I do.