Amanda Chidester Prepares To Bid Adieu To Playing Softball
At the age of 32, Amanda Chidester had to take a step back and start making decisions for the next chapter of her life. As a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year at the University of Michigan, an Olympic silver medalist with Team USA and a seasoned professional, her resume is packed to the brim.
That’s why her decision to retire from playing softball came easily.
“I have been playing softball for a lot of years, and I feel like I am at the point where I am content with the career I’ve had,” Chidester said. “There are other things I need to get into and I want to get into. I’m ready for the next phase.”
Chidester isn’t leaving the game just yet. In the full-time job she has been pursuing, all while playing for Athletes Unlimited, she’ll continue building and teaching on RISR, an instructional app designed to help hitters with softball skills and mental training.
“I want to give back to the game,” Chidester said. “I have learned so much over the years from so many different coaches and there’s so much knowledge to spread all around. Being able to impact a large group of kids and coaches in one location is huge. If I was younger again and there was this app, I would totally take that in my garage and find a lesson and do it with who I looked up to at that age.”
Chidester started playing softball when she was 12 years old, and when she made the goal in high school that this game was the direction she wanted to go in, she never looked back.
But a few years after playing for Michigan, pushing further in her career seemed so unimaginable. Her career nearly ended early due to a lack of sustainable opportunities after college.
“There was one moment in my career when I was around 24 when softball wasn’t in the Olympics and the pro league was going, but it wasn’t the best,” Chidester said. “I contemplated stopping at that point, and then softball got back in the Olympics, and I was like, ‘wow, I am going to do this.’”
Chidester is now grateful that AU has evolved into a successful outlet for women athletes, and she is overjoyed that this is the future professional softball players get to have.
“(AU) has been great, talk about feeling like a professional,” Chidester said. “From all the ups and downs that our sport has at that next level, this has been something I wish I would’ve been able to play in after graduating college, and play the next 10 years after with AU. I am happy that there are going to be opportunities for more college players to continue to play on and make money doing it.”
To say Chidester is thankful for softball is an understatement. In making friendships that will last a lifetime, meeting her wife, Anissa Urtez, and gaining important life lessons, softball will be with her every step of the way on her new journey.
“You can never perfect softball,” Chidester said. “It’s impossible to perfect a game, just like it’s impossible to perfect life. I am forever grateful that it constantly challenged me in a way that I am going to give my absolute best and continue to find ways to be my best and grow. It taught me, in life, in general, and moving forward in the next phase of life, that I am not going to be perfect at everything I do.”
With her final season now in full swing, there hasn’t been a moment to date when retiring felt like the wrong decision.
“I don’t think any of it has become bittersweet, honestly,” Chidester said. “I am at peace with my decision right now. I am not going away from the game, I will still be around. It’s not like I am going to disappear, I just won’t be on the field.
“I will definitely miss it, but I know that I have given it everything I have, and I have put all these years into it. I’m happy with what I’ve done.”