Basketball Coach Pat Riley once said, “to have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.” I cannot think of a better word to describe the Illinois Bash softball program better than: obsessed. Be obsessed with dedication, be obsessed with getting better, be obsessed with the feeling you get when you’ve played 6 games in a day in Oklahoma City in 105 degree weather and your team finally wins a bid to ASA Gold Nationals in Clearwater, Florida. Be obsessed.
Going into my junior year as a Division 1 softball player, I often reminisce with my current teammates about travel ball; we discuss tournaments, prior teammates, wins, losses, etc. But I always somehow find myself talking about how obsessed my team was with getting better and winning. That’s where I began to realize that the Bash was different. We played with a purpose, we took losses personally, my teammates had my back when I was back to the wall. Other travel teams don’t practice mental toughness, or do everything the same way. Other travel teams don’t do what the Illinois Bash does – and that’s why we were successful in every aspect.
I began playing with the Bash when I was a sophomore in high school and I had no idea what Coach Goranson had in store for me. Yes, I wanted to get recruited, I wanted to play division 1 softball, but most importantly, I wanted to leave some type of legacy on the field. I was not even close to the best player on the field when I started with the Bash; but I refused to not be the hardest worker and Coach Goranson sure pushed me to be the better than I even thought I had potential to be. I became obsessed with getting my pop time to be the fastest in the state, I became obsessed with having the perfect swing and Coach Goranson was there the entire time, pushing me, teaching me, definitely working on my mental toughness through everything. The Bash provided me with the resources to be successful, and I took full advantage of the opportunities.
Coach Goranson was obsessed with learning the new, best techniques to teach his players to train them to his best ability. No, 4 hour practices were not easy. Yes, we all told him at some point (probably during a 2 minute plank or between reps of pushups in the rain) that we were going to walk off the field forever. But we never did. Through Coach Goranson being obsessed, we became obsessed. We wanted to work hard, we wanted to win and that’s how you build a championship culture.
If there is one thing I can tell future players, it’s that I would do anything to be back on the field with “Illinois Bash” across my chest. You will never make memories better than the ones on the field with your teammates, covered with blood, sweat, and dirt. Hold yourself to a high standard, know that you can play with and against the best.
I can’t thank the Bash program enough for everything they did for me. Softball success aside, I would not be the person I am today without the incredible coaches and teammates I had while with the Bash. I was taught hundreds of lessons about softball and how to push myself to be successful in life.