Doesn’t matter if you like sports or not, you’re going to enjoy hearing about this team. The Oklahoma Sooners won their third straight Women’s College World Series on Thursday, with a 3-1 victory in the series finale. That also added to their record-breaking winning streak, which sits at 53 games, 6 more than the old record.
But what really makes this team special came out in a pre-series press conference on Tuesday, when ESPN’s Alex Scarborough asked players about the streak.
“I know you guys talk about keeping the joy of the game, but it’s a long season and you guys have had the target on your back the entire time, with the win streak, with being number one. How do you handle the unique pressure that comes with that? How do you keep the joy for so long when anxiety seems like a thing that could very easily set in?”
Shortstop Grace Lyons was the first to answer:
“The only way that you can have a joy that doesn’t fade away is from the Lord. And any other type of joy is actually happiness that comes from circumstances, and outcomes. I think coach has said this before but, joy from the Lord is really the only thing that can keep you motivated, and just in a good mindset, no matter the outcomes. Thankfully we’ve had a lot of success this year but if it was the other way around, joy from the Lord is the only thing that can keep you embracing those memories, moments, friendships, and all of that. So, really the only answer to that, because there’s no other way that softball can bring you that because of how much failure comes in it and just how much of a roller coaster the game can be.”
And if that wasn’t amazing enough, utility player Jayda Coleman wanted to echo the point:
“One thousand percent agree with Grace Lyons. I went through that my freshman year. I’ve talked about this before, but I was just so happy that we won the College World Series but I didn’t feel joy. I didn’t know what to do the next day. I didn’t know what to do for that following week. I didn’t feel filled. And I had to find Christ in that. I think that is what makes our team so strong: we’re not afraid to lose because it’s not the end of the world if we do lose. Yes, obviously we’ve worked our butts off to be here and we want to win. But it’s not the end of the world because our life is in Christ and that’s all that matters.”
Next up was sophomore Alyssa Brito:
“We’re really fixing our eyes on Christ. Like they were saying, you can’t find fulfillment in an outcome, whether it’s good or bad. I think that’s why we’re so steady in what we do… because we know this game is giving us the opportunity to glorify God. Once we figured that out, and that was our purpose and everyone was all in with that, it’s really changed so much for us. Once I turned to Jesus and I realized how He had changed my outlook on life – not just softball but understanding how much I have to live for, living to exemplify the kingdom – I think that brings so much freedom. I’m sure everyone’s story is similar: we all have those great testimonies that have really shown how awesome it is to play for something bigger. That’s just what brings me so much joy, no matter the outcome, whether we get a trophy in the end or not. This isn’t our home, and I think that’s what’s amazing. We have so much more; we have an eternity of joy with our Father and I’m so excited about that. Yes, I live in the moment, but I know this isn’t my home and no matter what, my sisters in Christ will be there with me in the end when we’re with our King.”
The final word went to the coach after a follow-up question. The same reporter wanted to know how she could get these kids to keep going hard when they were winning so often. Wasn’t it just human nature to slack off in the midst of so much success? How could they keep their focus?
Coach Patty Gasso replied: “I think that they just gave you that answer.”