After a long week of finicky weather and midterms, the rest of Skidmore Softball and I found ourselves in sunny, ninety degree weather, playing the sport we love. In Winter Haven, Florida, we battled against some of the most highly ranked teams in the country, ultimately beating schools such as Kean University and McDaniel College. We finished with a 4-6 record, giving us a solid foundation for the remainder of our season. Considering we played ten games in five days in heat and humidity, the rest of our schedule should be doable in the perpetual tundra that is the northeast. Furthermore, without the restraint of gym walls, we could execute and further improve upon the skills we have been working on since the fall. My fellow infielders and I could field grounders on dirt rather than wood, our pitchers could throw against batters they had never seen before, and our coaches could talk (or yell if necessary) us through high-stress situations. Overall, things flowed naturally. The team that had never played together worked like a machine. It may have not been well-oiled at all times, but we did a pretty good job of tightening up loose screws when necessary. Though getting some wins under our belt contributed to our overall satisfaction with the trip, nothing compares to the inevitable team bonding that comes with spending a full week together on the field, on the road, and in the houses. Up until I boarded the bus Saturday morning, I was worried about being in such close quarters with a team I had spent only a few months getting to know. On our way to the sports center, one of my sophomore teammates had told me how essential the Florida trip was to fully enjoying her college softball experience. I believed her to an extent, though I was skeptical that she was just saying anything to make sure I got on that bus. However, after seeing my teammates surrender all their energy to the Florida heat; after listening to a new friend open up to me for the first time; after sharing a gluten free pizza with my coach, I learned that she was right. You can have the best record in the country, but if your team feels uncomfortable belting out karaoke in front of their coaches and family, then where is the fun in playing? In a Division Three program, nobody is forcing you to play—nobody is being held against his or her will by a signed contract. When we step onto the field with “Skidmore” across our chests, it’s because we are proud to represent the program we all make up. Some teams in Florida may have never even heard of us, but after executing our playing philosophies, letting our energy vibrate through the field, and having fun with people we can all call family, nobody can forget us.