To Rise Above

Rise above; it is not a complicated idea. In sports, it often means to rise above oneself and do something others might call extraordinary.

On April 4th 2015, Shannon Wessel rose up. In a collegiate softball game between the Whitworth Pirates and George Fox Bruins, a game most people will never hear about, a young woman who is more similar to us than different did something transcendent.

It was a long week leading up to game-day. A few days prior, Wessel’s grandfather had passed after battling health issues for some time. As a daughter, Shannon needed to be there for her mother during a difficult time but felt helpless because there was little she could do. As a granddaughter, she mourned the loss of her grandfather. As a college student, Wessel was buried with school work. As a softball player Wessel had to focus on athletic duties.

“My grandfather had been sick for a long time and was in the hospital for the past couple of months. He was not doing well and my family saw it coming, but on Thursday he passed away. I had been talking to my mom because the entire process was something that was incredibly stressful for her. She was grieving and we all were. I was overwhelmed with that, I had a lot of school work and softball was getting to that point in the season where you are getting tired, and you had to push through” Said Wessel.

Wessel kept her struggles to herself and on Friday the lady Pirates began their series against the Bruins. Wessel managed three hits in six at-bats in the first two games but her costly error in the bottom of the sixth-inning in game-two led to her benching and sparked a four-run inning by the Bruins resulting a 10–9 Pirates defeat.

After the loss, Wessel’s emotions finally boiled over. She was overwhelmed by the tragedies in her personal life. Now she feared being benched due to her costly mistake but she was not and returned to the field the following day.

Six-innings passed and the Pirates trailed 4–3 in the top of seventh, two-outs, bases were loaded and Wessel came to the plate. She had failed to collect a hit all day, striking out looking and grounded out twice.

As she walked to the batter’s box, her coach told her “just go out there and have some fun.” Then Wessel rose up and magic ensued. On the first pitch Wessel sent the ball over the fence, and in that moment Shannon Wessel rose up.

In that moment, she managed to rise above her personal tragedies, her angst from letting her team down the day prior, and for a moment all the sorrow she felt left that ballpark along with that ball; a grand-slam to win the game.

“It was one of those moments where you’re down and you’re trying to figure out how to get back at this. You are thrown into situations, things are happening but you have an opportunity to do something about it, and it was just a great moment to apart of” Said Wessel.