Photo: Chris Blanchette

The sisters I’ve never had: on the road with Ryerson’s fastpitch team

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By Hayley Graham

Hayley Graham is a third-year sport media student and a member of the Ryerson fastpitch team.

Coming to Ryerson wasn’t always my plan. I always thought I would leave my city for university; I’d go to a school with a solid fastpitch team and a program I liked.

It didn’t exactly turn out like that.

Ryerson’s sport media program couldn’t be beat, but the school had never had a fastpitch team. I chose the program knowing that it comes second to none, but also with the knowledge that I wouldn’t play ball at school. But three years later, here I am, back on the field wearing Ryerson across my chest.

Up until this year, it’s always felt like something was missing at Ryerson. Going into university, I didn’t realize how weird it would feel not to be on a team. I always played on a team growing up, having girls to fall back on–the sisters I’ve never had. That wasn’t there in my first three years of school, and it wasn’t until this weekend that it finally felt like that missing piece had been found.

This past weekend was the first overnight road trip for our fastpitch team; the first in team history. Record-wise, it may have not gone as planned, but the bond we created is a strong one.

Before our first game, I had known maybe half of the girls on the team for a total of perhaps seven months. The other half, a couple of weeks. That’s not a whole lot of time to gain trust and build chemistry with girls you’ll be sharing the field with and relying on to make plays.

Fastpitch is one of those sports where you might get the ball hit to you once all game, or you might get it 10 times. One game you might go 4-for-4 at bat, and the next you’ll strike out more times then you’ll get on base. You never know.

You have to trust your teammates. You have to trust that they’ll make that play or get that hit. Fastpitch is 75 per cent–or more, my coach might say–a mental game, and a big part of that mental game is trust, something that takes a lot of time to create.

Going into this weekend, we had a .500 record. Pretty damn good for a bunch of girls that had learned each other’s names a month and a half earlier. Not to mention, this is probably the most banged-up team I’ve ever played on. 24 games in five weeks is a heavy schedule, and a big adjustment for most of us.

It’s a real grind, and anyone who tells you differently is lying.

But this weekend, more than ever, the team played for each other. We had a short bench; a lot of us were playing injured, taping up and trying to numb the pain until the end of the day. But we want to play, and as a first year team, we’re going out there to play our best, trying to gain respect among Ryerson’s more established teams.

The weekend wasn’t about which games we won or which games we lost, it was about getting to know each other. Finding out who’s the messiest and the cleanest, who’s most likely to get lost on the way to a game. It’s stuff that you naturally learn about people over time. But being locked in an escape room with them can definitely speed up the process.

We learned that Car is a little forgetful. That I sleep the minute I set foot in a car. That even though K might not know where the equator is, she’s unreal at dominos and one of the most honest players I know.  

Before this weekend, it sometimes felt like we were playing this team sport as individuals. But even halfway through the trip, I felt we were playing more and more as a whole. As one unit. As a team. 

When it comes down to it, I’m proud of this team. I’m proud to be a part of this team. And I’m excited to see where things take us.

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