During my Pursuit of Passion I am hoping to meet some passionate people, interview them, and then take part in whatever it is that they love so much. In my plan I am hoping to learn and grow from other people and then share it with the world, but after meeting my first passionate individual it has become even more clear how powerful this experience is going to be.
On 2/28 I had the privilege and honor to connect with Kimberly Reeder. Kim is an amazing softball player who has earned the highest of honors as a player, played collegiate and professionally, and is now coaching college kids hoping to follow in her path. From the outside looking in she is a softball player and her passion must be softball. While you would be partly correct, there is so much more to her and her passion than just a sport. As an athlete, we often get placed with a certain tag and that is who we become. Too often we are categorized by our sport or our success in the sport, but as Kim shares often it is our passion for a sport or activity that can lead us to a bigger purpose in life.
Kim grew up in California where from a young age she started playing softball. People around her quickly realized that she had a special gift and she would spend years training, playing, and competing. In high school she was a three time All American, threw 19 no hitters, and an amazing 8 perfect games. She was the 2005 California Gatorade Player of the Year and earned a scholarship to THE Ohio State University. As a Buckeye she continued to shatter record books. She was a starting picture all four years, was an All-American, accumulated a 77-41 record and a 1.55 ERA, 706 career strikeouts, and a ongoing list of other awards, honors, and records. Along with all of her success on the field, she was also a Four Time Scholar-Athlete of the Year and graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in Strategic Communication with a GPA of 3.86.
Just reading all of her awards and her success it is easy to see that Kim is a very special athlete, but once you meet her in person you realize that these awards don’t even begin to define her character and how special of an individual she is.
As we sat down to talk and I asked her about her passions, I like most people I would assume was expecting to hear all about softball. I would quickly learn that my assumptions were far from correct.
I started off by asking Kim the following question:
What are you doing when you feel the most alive/happy/beautiful?
Without hesitation she quickly commented “helping others.” This one comment would spark an hour conversation where I started to see the direction that the true beauty of her soul, energy, and purpose was directed. She went on elaborated by sharing that she gets a rush from watching people progress towards their goals and succeed.
You often hear people categorize athletes as selfish people. As a big time athlete this is often a fine tough line that you have to make. To become the best at what you do, you must have a somewhat selfish perspective on you individual development. You have to focus a lot on you, your training, your diet, your health, your wellness, your skill, and often you have to focus on yourself as a competitor. To become the best you have to invest a lot of time in yourself. It is easy to see why some athletes become selfish individuals in every aspect of their life, because so much is focused on you personally becoming the best that you can be.
Kim shared how as she grew and matured she started to continue to focus on her self and her own development, but she started noticing the thrill she got from watching and helping teammates have success.
I can remember the day I hung up my basketball sneakers. The thought of “Who am I now?” played on repeat in my head. My whole life was dedicated to my passion and to the game of basketball. Now I was a 28 year old kid, whose competitive love for basketball was now done. It almost felt like a part of your soul was gone and you had lost a big part of who you are. Kim shared this exact same story with me. When she finished playing she knew that her passion of competing as a softball pitcher was over and the thought of what now came rushing in. She started working as a pitching and softball coach working camps and doing individual training lessons, which again fed into her love for helping others.
This brings us to 2017 where she is in her first season as an assistant softball coach at the University of New Mexico. I sat there talking to her and I could see her eyes light up as she talked about how she gets a thrill and motivation from helping people feel/realize their own personal power and how they too can be a leader in whatever their disciple and passion in the world is. After a long conversation I watched her throw batting practice to several players, instructing them on technique and softball IQ. I watched as she got a thrill every time a player ripped one back up the middle, connecting on the sweat spot of the bat. “Yes,” “There it is,” she would shout in excitement in seeing the players use her instruction in a successful way.
After our conversation, I asked her to throw me a few pitches. Playing baseball my entire life, I was confident that I could hold my own and rip a couple and hopefully impress her little. I stood in the batters box and the first pitch came out of her hand and it went right by me. I quickly realized that I might be in over my head as several pitches flew by me as I consistently swung and missed. The entire time she was trying to give me pointers and tell me what I should be doing, amazingly getting a thrill in hopefully seeing me succeed. Again, showing her nature of loving to help others realize success. Towards the end I finally hit one fair and she yelled out in excitement “That was a fair ball, you hit it.” I still believe she left something off that pitch so I could hit one and feel good about myself, although I doubt she would admit that.
Watch the video below:
As I was about to leave we continued to talk about our passions and purpose. I shared with her more about my story and my journey and she continued to share with me her stories and beliefs. I asked her if she thinks she would always be a softball coach and she had to think about it for a while. She loves to coach, but she also spoke about how she would love to run a shelter, maybe for women, homeless, or even animals. She talked about how she would love to be a part of something that helped people get back on their feet or fight through tough times. Again, it is that love for helping others and watching people grow, overcome, and succeed.
As I was driving away my mind was going a mile a minute – It was an amazing experience and I will be excited to follow Kim’s journey whether that is as a softball coach, a mentor, a founder of a non-profit or any other adventure her passion and purpose drive her towards. As lucky as I was to meet Kim and get struck out by her, I know that that her passion for softball has transformed into a passion/purpose of helping others, which is going to impact more people in her lifetime then she even realizes.
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