We all were was speechless at our end of season banquet this week. Our alumni coordinated a new welcoming ceremony for the graduating seniors to celebrate their transition from Extreme players to Extreme alumni and it was incredible!
Here were the two speeches that not only welcomed our senior softball players to the alumni, but also encouraged our soon-to-be alumni baseball players!
Speaker 1 – Hannah Wessels, Extreme Alum 2010
When I was a senior in High school, I committed to Lake Land community college and then not too long after I decided to play soccer to stay in shape for softball.
About 6 games into season, I completely blew out my left ACL. My family and I were devastated and at first I was mad and thought I had done something wrong that maybe this was karma coming to get me or something. I called my coach to let him know what happened and that I was going to have surgery immediately. Fortunately, he did not take away my scholarship. 5 months later I played in my first game when I was originally told it would be a 6-8 month recovery.
So I got through my freshman year I played first base and eventually got beaten out of the position by a sophomore. I came back my sophomore season feeling like the best shape of my life. 3 weeks into fall practice we were practicing rundowns and I was heading to home and turned to go back to third base and my left knee gave out on me and I instantly knew it was my ACL again. Sure enough I tore my left ACL again but this time it was only a partial tear. Well at the time, I was a sophomore and did not have a scholarship for next year so I convinced my doctor to let me play the rest of the season on one condition. That I had to wear my knee brace and there was a good chance I was going to do more damage to my knee. But it was a risk I was willing to take. So I played the whole season with my knee brace knowing that pretty much as soon as I go home I was going to have to have surgery all over again and go through rehab for even longer this time.
About a week before surgery I got a phone call from Coach Brett and he asked if I wanted to play in anexhibition game against the Chicago Bandits professional team and it turned out the game was the night before my surgery. There was not a doubt in my mind that I was going to play in that game.
The Extreme organization has constantly opened doors for me. I would have never gotten the opportunity to play at UMSL if it was not for Coach Brett. My coach at UMSL went solely on Coach Brett’s word, because at the time I was injured and he had never seen me play for that I am so thankful.
One of my favorite memory’s playing for the Extreme was the first time I played Alexa Becker. At the time she was playing for the Attack and we were playing in the Collinsville tournament. Every time she would hit a double I would walk by and say “Hey nice hit man” and then we would hit and I would get a double and she would walk by and say “Hey nice hit man”. I can’t tell you who won the game or what I went for the day, but what I do remember was the sportsmanship that we both displayed. Next thing I know couple weeks later she is trying out for the Extreme. But on that day, I think we both showed great Extreme Pride even if she didn’t know the saying at the time.
So we all say Extreme Pride and it has its different meanings for everyone, but what Extreme Pride truly means to me is FAMILY and it started when I first joined the Extreme. During my fall high school season Tom Matysik would travel all the way to Hillsboro Missouri to watch some of my high school games. Even up to my senior year of college and Mark Popov coming to countless games at UMSL. My freshman year of college one of my fellow extreme teammates came to a visit at my school. At the time I was completely miserable and very homesick, but when they left her stepdad gave me a high five and said Extreme Pride and wow did that hit me so hard and so close to home and it really reminded me of all the support I had back home.
My advice to the seniors is to wake up! You guys need to be prepared for the realization that you are most likely not going to be the best player on the team anymore. Once you get to college no one cares what you batted or pitched in high school or if you were all state or not, because guess what everyone there was the best player on the team and everyone is there for a reason.
I know that may sound harsh and some of you may not believe me, I know because I was the same way. But when I got to school I was in for a rude awakening. So my advice is get ready to find a role on that team. Even if it is second string or a pinch hitter or runner, but you find something and you be the best at that role no matter what it is. My freshman and sophomore years I was not the main starter and it fueled my fire. When I got to UMSL I told myself I was going to do whatever it takes to get into that lineup no matter what position it was. I knew I had a long road ahead of me, because my family and I decided it was best for me to red shirt my first year at UMSL to get completely healed this time. When my junior season started I was not a starter and yeah I was mad, but my parents told me to be patient and that I would get my opportunity and I would have to take advantage of it. Well I got my opportunity and I ended the season as the starting 3rd baseman.
Even up to my senior year I had to continue to fight. I went in thinking I was going to be the veteran starting 3rdbaseman until the first day of practice and we had a stud freshman 3rd baseman come in and I knew from the first practice she was going to take my spot. So I had a choice I could give-up or I could go out swinging. I continued to put the work in and I warned my parents that when season starts I was not going to be in the starting lineup. I never once bashed this teammate not even to my parents because honestly I couldn’t. I had to be honest with myself and tip my hat; this girl was a better 3rd baseman than I was. But I knew I could still make the lineup as the DP and again when I got my opportunity I took advantage of it and I stayed in that role the whole season, did not see the infield once. And I ended up having my career best season. When I went into college I was a 2nd baseman.
At my junior college I was a first baseman and at UMSL I was a 3rd baseman and ended as the DP. Prior to college I had never played those positions before, but I had to be a team player and play where my coach needed me, I played with Extreme pride, because that is something the Extreme has taught me.
At the beginning of my senior season one of my favorite people in the world told me to “Enjoy the ride”, so my advice to you seniors is to enjoy the ride because honestly it does go by so fast, at some point you are probably going to be miserable but you just have to push through it and never give up because eventually you will get to look back on it and tell your children and grandchildren about it.
To the parents, it going to be very hard for you to watch your child to go through tough times just be prepared for them, stay positive, encouraging, and always on their side.And remember it is not all about the stats or playing time, because honestly known of us can control that. I have to thank my parents who have been at almost every game I have ever played in, even nowadays when I just play women’s ball. They even traveled with the team when Ired-shirted and couldn’t play now that is true extreme pride.
I think I can speak on behalf of the Extreme alumni when I say you girls will always have a family to come home to here at Extreme. I wish you all the best of luck and to remember to always play with Extreme Pride.
Speaker 2 – Lauren Popov-Muniz, Extreme Alum 2008, 18U Gold Coach
Hannah has always exemplified Extreme Pride and I’m thankful I was able to play alongside her. Hannah was an amazing teammate, one of the best, and she is a true Extreme alum. So are many others that are with us tonight and at this time I would like all of our alumni present to stand. We are missing several tonight who are still coaching.
We have countless other alumni who have positively impacted our organization this season–whether coaching, teaching, throwing BP, organizing events such as tonight, securing fields for practice space, running tryouts, or simply lending a helping hand and sending words of support and encouragement. Our alumni live the Extreme Way day in and day out and wear Extreme Pride on their sleeve.
Right now, I would like you to think about our alumni–have they impacted, left an impression, or helped you or your child in any way? No way is too big or too small. If the answer is yes, please stand.
As you can see there are many more of you standing than there are alumni. Our alumni are important and invaluable.
Our alumni are the heartbeat of our organization, they are our past, our present, and our future. Without them, we cannot be the Extreme Family we know and love. And, I am so happy and proud to know that in a few short years we will be welcoming our first class of men into our alumni club. Only then, when baseball and softball is represented in our alumni, will we be able to have the ultimate impact on our sports.
But, tonight is about the present, it’s about this moment right now. When our graduating seniors bridge the gap between an Extreme player to an Extreme alum. These women are tenacious, full of life and love, and will no doubt take the world by storm and will turn heads everywhere they go. I am so proud and honored to welcome these women into our alumni club. Always know that your Extreme family is beyond proud of you and that we will always support you and welcome you with open arms.
Our alumni have a gift for you this evening, a gift to remind you of your roots, and that once an Extremer, always an Extremer.
Congratulations class of 2015.