Saturday night we got to see a Disney movie story unfold right before our eyes.
A Dsiney movie with a lesson every softball player — and every athlete — can get something out of.
Every once in a while we are all reminded of why we love sports. When a player answers the bell in a tough situation, we are always ready to cheer. but when something extra special happens, we all take notice.
Jalen Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year a few years ago. In his career he helped the Crimson Tide win about 30 games while only losing two. Last year during the national championship game, Nick Saban made a tough call and went to his highly thought of freshman quarterback, who we all just know as Tua, now.
Tua sparked a great comeback and the Tide won another National Championship. Tua became a national phenomenon and the entire sports media machine went nuts. Part of the craziness was the amazing performance of Tua, part of the story was Nick Saban’s audacity of putting an untested freshman into such a pressure cooker and then the final piece was what would Jalen do?
What is Jalen going to do? ESPN and every other sports show wore out this question all spring and summer. Who would be the quarterback at Alabama? Who was going to win the competition and lead the Tide into the 2018 season.
The question took on a life of it’s own as the fall approached. Nick Saban became a raw nerve every time someone asked him about his quarterback. He seemed to sense that people were trying to create drama and get him to disrespect one of his talented quarterbacks.
Tua won the starting job and is a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, so it would be hard to question the choice. Again, what will Jalen do? Where will he transfer? When will he blow up and create the storm that everyone expected? These questions were at the head of every press conference about Alabama Football.
Jalen decided to stay at Alabama! Why not follow the example of so many of his contemporaries and head for the door as soon as his starting role was challenged? That became the new question.
What did Jalen choose to do? He accepted that Tua was the starting quarterback and went to work to grow as a player, to support the player who took his job with all his heart and to have faith that God had a plan!
After some late-game opportunities in games that were all but over, facing several injuries he had to overcome, and facing the constant questions and scrutiny about why he chose to stay at Alabama. God’s plan for Jalen became pretty clear.
Tua heads for the medical tent with an injured ankle. Jalen enters the SEC Championship Game trailing Georgia by two touchdowns in the third quarter. Three touchdown drives later, Jalen was celebrating on the field with Tua and the rest of his teammates.
The man who was expected by most to head for the hills was instead leading his team to the mountain top. Even the usually stoic Nick Saban got emotional following the game when asked about what Jalen Hurts had accomplished.
Don’t worry Nick, you weren’t the only one choking back tears!
So, the next time you feel slighted on the softball field, ask yourself, “What would Jalen do?”
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.