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Kayla Cox, University of Tampa, Softball

by carmine on February 5, 2013



 

 

My name is Kayla Cox I am a junior at The University of Tampa and I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but following him has not always been easy for me. My walk in God has been anything but a smooth ride. My childhood is almost a complete blur, a psychologist told me my freshman year of college I subconsciously blocked it out of my mind because of the heart ache, fear, and loneliness I experienced as a child. I was raised by my grandparents most of my life because both of my parents were unfit to raise me. I moved in with my grandparents when I was 8 years old, which was the only miracle I can remember as a child. My grandparents are the ones who told me about Jesus and is his amazing love. 

Before living with my grandparents I lived with my mom and dad in a double wide trailer that was infested with roaches and was always dirty. My mom and dad would never be home because they would be at local bars getting too drunk or too high to come home.

I was living with three other siblings my sister Nichole, brother Chris and brother Joseph. Joe and I had the same biological parents and were near the same age, so we were the closest to one another. Chris and Nichole were older and would always have people over doing drugs and partying. There was never ever food in the house so my brother Joe and I would have to steal oranges and other fruits from our neighbors to eat. Some nights my parents would get involved with drug deals and the dealers would come looking for them and would bag on the windows and break in and huge frights constantly broke out and my brother and I would have to hide. My mom and dad would constantly fight and hit each other. Once my parents became too far gone to even take us to school my grandparents knew something had to be done. 

And they decided to take in my brother Joseph and me. This is when my life began to look up. Having food on the table every night made me feel as if I had already died and gone to heaven. My brother and I both struggled in school because we missed so much growing up, all the other kids were ahead of us. And we both tested in school way behind in our grade levels. My Grandma decided we needed to get our minds off the past and the struggles academically and decided she needed to get us into sports so she took us up to the local little league called, “East Bay Little League,” and signed Joe up for baseball and me up for softball. Little did I know softball was going to change my life forever. My grandparents spoiled us all through middle school and high school never letting us want for anything. The friends Joe and I met through school had no idea about our horrific past, and we wanted to keep it that way. The only thing that got to me at times is when girls on my softball team would always ask me where my mom and dad was, and grandma told me to say they were away for business. It was extremely hard to see the softball girls with their moms and dads on the field but looking back I see now God was just making me stronger. Once I turned about 13 years old my pitching abilities begin to get people’s attention. My brother was about 15 and he was taking off as a pitcher as well. 

Everyone said we both had God gifted talents. My brother and I became two star athletes in high school that everyone looked up to. Sadly, my brother began to hang with the wrong crowd and begin partying too much getting him distracted from baseball. My father was in prison at the time so my brother had no male figure to enforce rules, my grandpa was ill since we were little could never get out of his chair and my grandmother could only do so much. Therefore, my brother Joe looked up to Chris the oldest sibling, who was already deeply involved with drugs. During my brothers junior year of high school my brother Chris overdose on pills and died. This is what sent my brother Joseph off the deep end, he began taking mass amounts of pills. He ended up in the hospital flat lined twice and brought back to life…and slowly….I began to lose my best friend. I remember being 15 years old in my room on my knee’s screaming and crying to God, asking him WHY! Why he had to take my brother Chris and why he now was leading Joe in the same direction.

 I began to resent God because I did not feel it was fair he put me through so much pain. A year later my mom got diagnosed with liver cancer and my sister Nichole died in a car accident from drinking and my brother Joe had dropped out of high school and was deep into drugs and leaving his baseball career in the dust. I had many day’s I hated life, hated myself, felt like life was pointless. It is an absolute miracle I did not take my own life, because it did cross my mind, but I kept reminding myself I would never get to heaven that way, even though at the time, heaven is the only place I wanted to be. I began using softball as my escape and learned how to block out all the hurt I was feeling. I put on a happy face and hid behind everything. My Junior year of high school I committed to attend NC State University on a full athletic softball scholarship. I am the very first person in my family to attend college. Thanks to a woman I met playing travel ball who took me under her wing and helped bring my grades up and get me in to college, her name is Sherrie. My pitching coach Jaci Davis who helped lead me to success introduced me to Sherrie. Sherrie was an angel sent from above that convinced me I could rise from my past and become something better. 

She pushed me to bring up my GPA to a 2.3 to a 3.3 in one year so I would be able to go to NC State. I would drive to Clearwater at 6:00 pm after softball practices to stay at Sherries’s home for tutoring and studying all night. I would then have to wake up at 5am to get back to school and hour away. I would repeat this routine about 4 to 4 times a week. But, none of this was too hard for me because God gifted me with great determination to be successful and raise above everything life has dealt me. I knew I could anything with God, I knew he would push me to be as successful as I possibly could. 

Sherrie sent me to the Winning inning in Clearwater to train for Division 1 softball. This is where I met Randy Holland, who asked me a question I will never ever forget. He ask, “what defines you, when someone asked you who you are what would you say”? At the time I said, “I am a softball pitcher and thats about it”. The more him and I spoke the more he told me about God, he invited me to his church in Clearwater, Country Side Christian center, where I committed my life to Jesus Christ and got baptized with my brother Joe. I know now the answer to the question he asked, Jesus defines me, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and everything I do is to bring glory to him. My senior year I was crowned Homecoming queen at East Bay High school and was on the way to winning the first state title in the school history. The press was all over me and was covering my singing day to NCState and this is were my Mother decided to tell the reporter she is dying. 

The reporter then ask me to reveal my life story to the public, I was scared because I did not want people to feel sorry for me or look at me different, but I figured it was a opportunity to bring glory to God. Here is a link to the story the press wrote about my life: http://www.tampabay.com/hometeam/blog/east-bay-ace-takes-refuge-game/5356/

No one looked at me different once the story was released, they were just inspired. My whole softball team began to lean on God after hearing my story, we began praying before every game. As a team we chose to play for God the entire year, and everyone felt unstoppable playing for him. The more glory we brought to God the more deadly my high school team became and no-one could beat us. Then we became the fairy tale team and won the first state title in the schools history. I thought my life was perfect at this time, I thought I was going to go to the college of my dreams. But, the emotional roll-coster began, I was deeply unhappy in North Carolina, I felt alone and out of place, missing my grandparents.  

The only thing that kept me strong was the athletic FCA(Fellow-ship of Christian Athletes) group at school and countless night of staying in the word all night. I knew I did not want to be at this school. I prayed every night that God would make NC State my home but he never did. I would literally cry every other night because I did not want to let Sherrie down, my team, or coaches. But I knew deep down, God did not want to make state my home. I knew the only thing I could do was work as hard as I could to keep my grades of in case I ever did have the courage to transfer. 

My freshman year came to an end it was time for me to go back to Florida, which was the most excitement I had all year. I came home to Florida for the summer intending to go back to State, but as the time went by, I knew, I could not leave home, I knew the decision I was going to make would ruin my relationship with the most amazing woman in my life at the time, Sherrie and I could possibly not be able to get into another school. But I knew I had to follow my heart and trust that there was a reason God did not allow me to find happiness at North Carolina State University. I choose to leave State and try to find another school. God never ever fails and lead me to The University of Tampa to play softball in my home town, where I am now, where I have never been happier in my entire life, and where I became all-American/scholar athlete in 2012 my first year at UT. 

This year 2013 I plan to shine, not for myself but for Jesus to have him shine through me and bring others to him. Through everything, I realized, God has perfect timing for everything and he never let me down or left me alone through my hard-ships. Without Christ in my life I would be nothing. I pray that everyone who reads this can see that no matter what life throws at you God will bring you through it and will just build your character through the struggles you face. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it”

 Favorite Verse: Philippians 4:13 “I can do all thing through him who gives me strength” 

                 

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