Every time I told someone where we were going to play this past weekend it was met with a, "Oh my goodness! I love Charleston!"
Thursday morning at 5:05 a.m. our alarms rang a little too loudly. We all shook the sleep out of our eyes and made our way down to the loading dock to pack the sleeper buses for our nine-hour trek to Charleston, South Carolina.
After two solid wins on Friday, we had an abnormal 32- hour break before our next game.
Saturday, we were given the odd game times of 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. That meant we had a beautiful city on the water and time to kill.
Our coaches packed us into the buses, gave us money for lunch, dropped us off on a corner in downtown Charleston, and said, "Meet back here in two hours. Have fun!"
Katie, our trainer, lived here for a while, so she led us directly to Market Street.
We slowly made our way down aisles and aisles of hand-made baskets, freshly pulled leather book covers, sterling silver jewelry and pretty much any other homemade trinket you could imagine.
As I like to say about Hobby Lobby here at home, we were in the land of things we never knew we needed. And I don't know about my teammates, but I wanted all of it.
I refrained from burning a hole in my wallet, but I did get the chance to talk to a few people in their booths and hear their stories. In turn, they were more than happy to hear about the softball team visiting from Nashville.
From Market Street, groups began going their own ways.
One group headed straight to the Gucci store while another went for the "$5 T-shirts and more!" side of the street.
Eventually, I found myself walking beside freshman pitcher, Megan Gray.
I learned three very important things about Megan from our walk through the city. First, she's been to Australia. Second, she likes reading just as much as I do (which is a feat, let me tell ya). Third, she's perfectly okay with quiet (something that is severely under-appreciated in our busy world).
We decided to break away from the groups going shopping and find somewhere local to sit down and enjoy some lunch.
With the help of Google and some friendly people on the street, we landed at The Brown Dog Deli.
There we had two of the best salads I think I've ever eaten.
As we began our leisurely stroll back to the buses we happened upon the pier and decided to go check it out.
Those of you who know me at all know how much I love the ocean.
Megan and I stood there watching the waves for about five minutes when six dolphins decided to start playing not far from where we stood.
As I stood there watching the dolphins play, feeling the spray of the ocean meet my cheeks, and smelling the briny air, I couldn't help but smile.
What an amazing opportunity my teammates and I have every week.
Who else gets to leave school on a Thursday to go to a beautiful city on the coast and play the game that they love?
In that moment I couldn't have been more grateful for the opportunity to travel and play softball with 15 of my very favorite people.
Today, as I close, I find myself thankful for professors who give extensions, old cities and new friendships, dolphins and sunsets, and the chaotic life of a student athlete.