NOTE: This is part of a series on athletics.covenant.edu with feature stories written by the student-athletes about their time at Covenant. The series is in conjunction with NCAA Division III Week (April 1-7), an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments on and off the field of student-athletes in the NCAA's largest division.
By Carsyn Stone
(Covenant '19; Softball)
Looking back, my journey to Covenant was a huge leap of faith for me as I am very much a homebody and am about six hours away from home. I grew up in Savannah, Ga., and my life revolved around sports, especially softball.
I would spend time hanging with family, friends, doing schoolwork, but most of my time was spent playing softball. My junior year of high school I decided I wanted to continue playing softball at a higher level. My high school friend had just committed to play softball at Covenant, which at the time, I had never heard of it. I visited the school with her a few times and finally decided to come up to an exposure camp where I officially toured the school and fell in love with the campus. It was the softball team that made me feel like Covenant was where I belonged.
Little did I know I would have three coaches in four years and Coach Brie Carmack would be my coach for the final season of my softball career. Although a different style than what I was used to, she is intense, loves the game, and passionate about her players. All of my coaches taught me how to work hard, be a teammate, competitor, and a leader at all times, and how to give all the glory to God.
The girls on the softball team and my coach weren't lying when they said that Covenant was going to be tough academically. In the midst of life's ups and downs whether its college and in everyday life, it was the softball team and the close friendships that I made through being on the team that held me up and loved me so well.
Being on the softball team for the past four years has shaped me in more ways than I can begin to count and I am ever so grateful for that. It has taught me to be leader on and off the field, learn to love those that are different than me, bear down when things are hard, be a team player, laugh at myself and not take things so serious and most importantly, enjoy life to the fullest and not to take my abilities for granted.
After 13 years of playing fastpitch softball and pitching, it takes a toll on your body and especially your shoulder. My junior year, I had a shoulder injury at the very end of the season and needed shoulder surgery less than a month later. I had an inflamed labrum, supra scapular nerve impingement and thoracic outlet syndrome. After the surgery in May, I had to continue with physical therapy 2-3 times a week to regain the muscle and strength back that I had once before. Physical therapy was exhausting and painful at times, but I knew I had to go if I wanted to play softball my senior year at Covenant. Follow up visit after follow up visit with my surgeon and I could not seem to get released, my shoulder just wasn't strong enough yet and I was frustrated to say the least.
On July 1, 2018, I was informed that my friend, Caroline Moore, had been in a hammock accident where the tree that was supporting the hammock collapsed, struck her and broke her neck at C6 resulting in spinal cord damage. At that moment, she suffered paralysis from the neck down. My family and I were devastated to hear this news. Keeping up with her daily, I noticed the slow improvement she had been making to regain feeling and movement in her arms. Every moment I took to read the updates about her made me realize how much she has been teaching all of her supporters, prayer warriors, family and friends about strength, perseverance, faith, courage, love, grace and dependence on God! Caroline's story opened my eyes to see that my shoulder injury, and pain, is only temporary and although the physical therapy is challenging and tiring, I will eventually regain strength and full movement in my arm again! Caroline never seemed to complain of her injuries and is always so motivated and hard working.
This summer, the Lord taught me the most valuable lesson: you never know when the talents that God has given you will be taken away and that can be in a matter of seconds. Pitching is something that I am so passionate about and I wanted to go outside everyday over the summer to throw with my dad, but I was not able to do that. The talents that God has given you are an absolute blessing, so do not take advantage of those abilities one bit. The other patients I met in physical therapy, as well as my friend, that were far worse off than I, would do anything to be in your shoes to able to participate in another sporting event, or walk and run on their own again and not be confined to a wheelchair. The Lord has placed that on my heart over the course of the summer and has had a major impact with my recovery.
All in all, as traumatic as my accidents and recoveries have been, I believe that God made it happen all for a reason. I believe that God has steered me in the direction of pediatric dentistry so that I too may be able to help people that need physical as well as mental healing. I will be willing to tell my own personal story and hopefully be able to motivate and witness to people so that they too may know God and His greatness. I will not let the opportunities that have been placed in front of me as a result of the accident go to waste.
Looking back, I can see how I can take the lessons I learned and apply them to life. Amidst standing in the freezing cold for hours, cheering on my teammates, that final game is when I realized the unique opportunity it is to play at Covenant College. The dedication I have learned from softball will follow me into my post-college career heading into dental school.
While there were a few times I wanted to hang up my cleats, because the therapy was so much, I can look back and see how softball has shaped me into the woman I am today as I prepare to enter this next stage of world and life. I am beyond thankful for my time at Covenant, and as a student athlete as it has been so rewarding and has molded me into the woman I am today.