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Haylie McCleney, University of Alabama, Softball

by carmine on February 18, 2013

Haylie McCleney
University of Alabama
Morris, AL

I grew up in a Christian home, literally going to church every Sunday possible from the time I was born until now. But going to church and the whole idea of worshipping God was just an act for me. I was doing what I had to do in order to please my parents and my family. I would put on my “church face,” go to Sunday School and learn all the bible stories, then go into worship service and pretend like I actually cared.

In reality, I didn’t. God wasn’t really a part of my life, He was just a portion of my Sunday. I had no idea what I was missing, until God did something amazing, showed up, and gave me a wake up call.

It’s the spring of my junior year, the 2011 softball season. I played at Mortimer Jordan High school in Alabama, which some would argue is the best softball program in the state. At this point in my career, I had already won two state championships in 2008 and 2009, and also had a state runner-up in 2010. So in 2011, we didn’t have as much talent as we had in the past, but we were still a great team. We swept through our area tournament, swept through our regional tournament with virtually no real trouble. Then came State. The top 8 teams in all classifications in the state of Alabama all competing for that trophy. At the end of the 2-day double elimination tournament, a state champion would be crowned.

So guess what happens? We lost our very first game. Now I’m not sure if you get this, but losing your very first game in a double-elimination tournament is the WORST possible thing that could happen. So here we are, in the loser’s bracket at state, and we have just ONE pitcher. One. We have to win 6 straight games to win the state championship. 1 on Friday night and 5 on Saturday. Yeah, you read that right. FIVE. Only one team in state history had ever done this before, it was virtually impossible.

I wanted to win another state championship so badly. If you’ve ever met me, you know that I’m one of the most competitive people on the face of the planet. I can’t stand it when anyone or any team is considered better than me. I’m laying in my bed that Friday night, thinking about how impossible this seems, and I get a text from one of my best friends. It’s a bible verse.

Mark 10:27. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’”

That really got me thinking, so I prayed (if you could even call it that). I told God that if He gave me that state championship, and He got me through winning 5 straight games on Saturday, that I would completely devote my life to serving Him. I told Him that I was truly putting my faith in Him, and if he showed up, I would never turn away again. I dare you to guess what happens next.

We won 5 straight games on Saturday to win that state championship.

I can’t  even begin to explain to you how badly my legs hurt, how sore I was, how badly my entire body ached after playing all day. I truly believe that God carried me to the plate and in the outfield in each of those games. He showed up, just like I asked Him to. I mean have you ever played 5 softball games in one day? God’s strength, not mine, won that championship. That’s what I believe.

Ever since then. my life hasn’t been the same. I’m a new creation in Christ. I’ve begun a relationship with Him that’s stronger than I ever thought it could be. Now I play softball at the University of Alabama, and I used to look at softball as my dream. You know, to play in college, become famous, have all the fans, signing autographs after the games, etc. But now, I play softball with the goal of making Christ known. I play for HIS glory, not my own.

With that being said, I still don’t have everything figured out. I still do things I shouldn’t do, say things I shouldn’t say, but God’s love covers ALL of that. He loves me, I love Him. That’s why I choose to glorify Him in everything I do. My life was never about me in the first place.

“So whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

God Bless,

Haylie McCleney


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