Five days into college softball practice, my world came crashing down….I tore my rotator cuff. It was a Hinge moment, because injuries for athletes are tragedies and tragedies are immediate hinges… I was devastated and in more pain than I had ever been in before.

I was an athlete and being an athlete was all I had ever known.  Up until this point I thought I was invincible, but without softball, I was lost.  I turned to softball whenever anything in life went wrong and that wasn’t an option anymore. I was tired of being in pain, tired of my teammates asking when I would return, and tired of everyone telling me that I would be good as new.

Before I knew it, my ability to study, eat, sleep, or enjoy any aspect of life was gone.  I had given my life to the sport and now it was gone. The thought of life without softball was unimaginable.

My coaches wrote me off, my doctors gave up on me, and my teammates moved on…I was told I was not “meant” to be a softball player. I started combining the painkillers with alcohol to intensify the effect. The combination made everything disappear and I felt completely numb! I hit rock bottom.


The Hinge is the moment that makes all of the difference. There are a few in this journey, and I was determined, tenacious, and would do whatever it took to rise up…

I asked for help… I came clean to my parents about being depressed. I had lost my confidence and needed to find a way.

When I returned to campus I picked up my glove and began throwing left-handed…Yep! Left-handed…

I still needed a second surgery to repair my rotator cuff.  Sweat and tears became my motivation.  My range of motion was limited, but I kept pushing through the pain. Against all odds, I was in the starting line up by the time season started!

I transferred to the University of Dayton, where I finished the rest of my career.  My final two years were a constant struggle, but no one could wipe the smile off my face. I was grateful that it paid off.

Our test becomes our testimony…

I wouldn’t have wished it, but I learned so many things from the experience. I was reminded of my strength even in my weakest moments and I gained mental toughness that I previously had not had. I also learned to be a really great coach, which is what I do today!

The Hinge is real and it makes all the difference….

photo About the Author: Alisha Burnstein is a softball coach in Indianapolis, and associate of DRB. Contact information is

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