Determination, intensity and confidence weren’t written on the faces of the Elma High School fastpitch players during the District IV 1A softball tournament on May 21, they were written on their arms.
When the Eagles emerged from the dugout for the first game of the district tournament, each player had a different word or two-word phrase on bottom of their forearm.
During the team dinner the night before the tournament began, each player was asked to write down her goal for the tournament in one or two words: “Sell out, attitude, bring it, dominate, confidence, play with (heart symbol), believe, intensity, get dirty, sacrifice, dream big, determination and kick a**.” Then, out came the permanent markers and each girl had the words emblazoned on her arm.
After each girl got inked, the team watched a slideshow with pictures of many of the players from a young age through high school. The slide show was emotional for the seniors and coaches Janene and Mitchell Todd, who will step down after this season.
“That motivated them like none other, and I think that touched them in a place they didn’t know they were capable of,” coach Janene Todd said. “They had a little bit of fire in them because for these seniors it is their last one. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Elma played an inspired brand of softball, beating La Center, 3-2, and then defeating Hoquiam, 8-2, to earn a spot in the Washington 1A state tournament this weekend. For many of the Eagles, focus could be regained whenever they looked down at their forearm.
Senior Sydney Smythe, who originally found the idea on Pinterest, had the words “Bring It” on her arm. Smythe said the words were motivation throughout the first two games.
“All league season we hadn’t put it all out there to our potential, and I knew during districts that we could,” Smythe said. “I looked down at it the whole time. Everytime Brooke (Goldsmith) pitched I said, ‘Brooke, bring it.’ We needed motivation coming into districts as the No. 4 seed and we got it.”
Todd said she could see a difference in how the team performed in the two district games as opposed to the rest of the season or even the district championship game on Saturday. After playing two of the best games of the season with permanent marker on their forearms, Todd said the team may have to grab the markers one more time before they head to Richland for state this weekend.
“They we’re mentally different on Wednesday. We needed that then so we could go to state and it will be seen again.”