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Softball Youth Athlete Chooses Team Over Dream

(Photo courtesy of Softball Youth)

Back before the definition of “zoom” changed from moving or traveling quickly to reminding Grandma that she doesn’t have to yell into “the machine” and that yes, you can see her, everything would’ve worked out for Hannah Southwick.

But, this is 2020.

It began a year ago when Southwick was nominated for the Softball Youth All-American Games, which brings together some of the best players from all over the country. Due to it being such a competitive field, the Softball Youth scouts informed Southwick that, unfortunately, she didn’t make the cut but provided her with some advice on where to improve to take a shot at making the tournament the following summer.

So, with the goal of making next year’s tournament squarely in mind, Southwick dedicated the offseason to improving. “I worked any time I could with my pitching coach Diana Phalon to get ready and learn a new pitch for the All-American Games,” she said. “She pushed me so hard and helped me get where I needed to be. Even during the pandemic when we couldn’t be in person she did zoom lessons.”

Over the course of the year, Southwick began seeing noticeable improvement, and when it was time for this summer’s All-American Games, the Softball Youth team told her what she’d been hoping to hear: “Congratulations, you’re an All-American.”

“It felt so amazing to see it all pay off,” said Southwick, a left-handed pitcher whose dream is to play college softball. “I’m from a small, little town in New York. Not many people in our area have the opportunity to go to a Division I school and play.”

Now that the hay was in the barn, the only thing left to do was to make the trip to Kentucky that had been in her sights for 12 months. But, this is 2020.

“I was at my last pitching lesson before we were to leave when they [New York Governor Andrew Cuomo] put Kentucky on the travel ban list,” Southwick explained, meaning that if she went to the All-American Games, she would have to quarantine for two weeks upon returning. “I was heartbroken. My mom said that the choice was up to me, that my parents would support me. But I wouldn’t have been able to attend two tournaments with Bandits (Southwick's travel team) if I would’ve gone. That wasn’t fair to them.”

Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it, and again Southwick proved herself worthy of being called an All-American. On the day she was to leave for Kentucky, Southwick's mom, Sarah Powers, posted a photo showing Southwick cracking a personal best on her Pocket Radar. Sure, it might seem like a small consolation, but sometimes, when you think no one’s watching, a legend shows up to offer a helping hand.

That was Cat Osterman. And on that particular day, with a few simple words, Osterman inspired a girl who not only proved she has what it takes to be an All-American, but who also possesses selflessness.

“Love it, the commitment and the hard work!!” Osterman wrote on Southwick's Instagram post.

“I kept asking my mom if it was real,” Southwick said. “I love how she took time from her busy schedule to comment. (It) may not seem like a big deal, but it was everything to me. (It) made me want to push even harder as a pitcher. It made my year for sure.”

“Hannah’s story wasn’t just one of perseverance or hard work,“ Osterman told Softball America. “I was moved by the fact she really considered everyone her decision affected. It was the least I could do to let a young softball player know that she was seen. I hope when she does get to attend the Softball Youth All-American Games, it’s a dream come true.”

But it didn’t stop there. Pocket Radar took notice of the Instagram post and sent Southwick a Smart Coach, the company’s newest and most innovative product, to support her training as she gears up for next summer’s Softball Youth All-American Games and beyond.

“When I saw the picture her mother posted with our device and read Hannah’s story about her selflessness to put her team first, I was very impressed with her decision,” said Steve Goody, Pocket Radar CEO and Co-Founder. “Being invited to participate in the All-American Games is quite the honor, so for her to be willing to sacrifice that opportunity due to COVID-19 mandates and stay home to help her teammates shows remarkable courage and leadership. She is a great role model for her peers and we were happy to upgrade her to our latest technology.”

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