The 2013 Women's College Softball World Series started on May 30th. As you may know, I have a long history of involvement with the sport, and most recently with the UCLA softball team, so I take great interest in this tournament. Countless things impress me about the young women who come to the tournament to try and win the national championship for their schools: their talent, their passion, and their discipline. And I'm impressed most by what drives them - these young women work so hard with the near certainty that they will not receive any reward beyond the joy of competition, love of school, love of team, and concern for each other.
There's one women's professional softball league in the U.S.: National Pro Fastpitch (NPF). It has four teams. The players make from $4,000 to $25,000 a season. Unlike male college athletes in basketball, football and baseball, there's little chance of a monetary payoff at the end of the rainbow. Even a possible Olympic team berth, recently a renewed possibility for 2020, offers little beyond the prospect of competing for their country; Olympic softballers seldom get the endorsement opportunities of gymnasts, women's soccer players, swimmers, and figure skaters.
No, if you're competing at the highest levels of college softball, you're working and sweating and sacrificing for excellence for intrinsic rewards. That's why I believe that these women are such wonderful examples of wisdom. They know they aren't going to get huge shoe contracts or TV commercials, and it doesn't matter. They simply want to be there for each other and to perform at the highest levels possible. I've seen what happens when everyone on a team shares those same values, and it's extraordinary.
Watch the finals of the 2013 Women's College Softball World Series beginning tonight if you can. You'll see some amazing future leaders in action.
Do the rewards in your organization promote real excellence?