Welcome to Behind the G! This is a Georgia Way platform that shares student-athlete stories, hobbies, and what is important to them. To the world, student-athletes are viewed by their outcomes in their sports, but they are so much more than that. Our goal is to share with the world in their own words who they are as people, and the numerous ways they represent the G on and off the field.
I have dreamed of being a collegiate softball player since I was six years old. I was told by my father at a young age that “nothing in life is guaranteed, you have to make sure you are working 10 times harder than the person next to you to be successful.” but hard work pays off. His words of wisdom carried on with me throughout the years to the present day. Before I became a Georgia Bulldog I was in fact a Florida Gator. I transferred here as an upcoming junior in the fall of 2018. I suffered from torn labrums on both of my shoulders from recurrent dislocations during my time at Florida. After long consideration, I decided it was in my best interest to get both shoulders repaired. I was still determined to come back stronger than ever, even with knowing there was a chance I’d never be able to throw again like I used to.
Once I had my right shoulder surgery, I was ready to start the road to recovery. My rehab process was constantly improving and becoming easier. My trainer and physical therapist were very impressed with my quick improvements. My progression couldn’t have been better, however, there were still doubts I’d ever be able to throw ever again or throw a softball with my kids in the future! I still was level-headed that I was going to be all right. Six weeks later, Florida and I parted ways prior to my left shoulder surgery. I was now focused on my upcoming surgery and striving for a great rehab progression like my right shoulder! I continued to work hard in rehab for both of my shoulders to get back stronger than ever. Although I was no longer a softball player at Florida, I wanted to continue to get stronger and strive to come back.
Of course, it went through my head if transferring to another school to play softball was worth it because I had been through so much during my time in Florida. I had thoughts that maybe softball was not in my cards. But, I was torn because overall I enjoyed Florida. I also did not want to leave my friends that became family to me! But the longer I stayed there just as a student, the more unhappy I was becoming. And the more I got stronger in rehab, I realized that I should not let this obstacle stop me. After days of thinking, praying and talking with my family, I came to the realization that I wanted to continue playing softball.
In the summer of 2018, I was super thankful to get the opportunity to come back to my home state and play for the University of Georgia! Coming to Georgia was a great decision. It brought back the excitement, freedom, and love for the game that I once had. I am so thankful that the coaches and the girls were very welcoming towards me. I thank the coaches for believing in me and giving me another shot at playing softball. With that being said, I would not change my overall experience at the University of Florida because everything happens for a reason. I have learned that sometimes when life does not make sense at the moment, it might make sense later on.
Unfortunately, I faced yet again another setback. Due to transferring within the conference, I would have to sit out a year. However, I did not participate in my sophomore season due to my injury. I wanted to ask compliance for an exception to play the spring season of 2019, because if I sat out it would force me to be off the field two complete seasons. Sadly, the waiver was not approved and I was redshirted once again. I was unable to travel or dress out for games. It was a very hard journey to be completely healed and not be able to play. What hurt me the most was that I felt alone. It felt like the world was completely passing by and I was at a standstill. But, I knew I did not come all this far to give up now!
The following season, in 2020, I was finally cleared to play in the Red and Black series! In my first game, I went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases and two runs scored. Although the season was quickly cut short due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, I felt the love and excitement I had for the game again. I had this weight that was lifted from my shoulders. I was finally playing again! During the long months of quarantine, I received my degree from the University of Georgia in Communications Studies. Currently, in the spring 2021 season, I am facing a torn meniscus on my left knee. I have had two previous surgeries on it: a torn ACL and meniscus my junior summer of high school and another meniscus tear in the summer going into my freshmen year. But, I am fighting to finish the season before getting surgery. I have confidence that I will overcome this minor setback too as I have overcome many other injuries!
Early on and throughout my college career, I faced many ups and downs. I have learned that in the times where I felt down, a seed was planted. And in time that seed began to grow, those down moments were the foundation of my growth. Even though I have overcome so much adversity, I have realized that no one becomes immune to the struggle. It just teaches you and gives you the awareness of how to respond back to adversity. The one thing I have learned from softball, especially through my collegiate career, is to never give up, and to believe in yourself. It is easy to have negative thoughts that you are not worthy enough or believe in the negative things people tell you. It is easy to focus on the pain and have questions of, why me? Adversity and uncertainty are things that are not in your control. However, to have a mindset that you are a strong competitor and a fighter is something that is in your complete control. Shifting your mindset from the pain and suffering to a new beginning and growth will take you to your full potential. I have been mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually challenged, but it has made me the woman I am today. I am able to be the strength for others when they are weak because of my strong sense of compassion and understanding. Lastly, never lose sight of the little girl who dreamed of this moment and play for her. Never let anyone take the love for the game away from you! You have to focus on the present moment. Trust the process, keep striving, and keep pushing!
Finally, I want to thank my family and friends for helping me get through these hard times. When I felt my back was against the wall, my strong support system believed in me to keep my head up, fight back and come back stronger. I would not be where I am today without them.
Jacqui Switzer – UGA Softball