Softball breeds strong mindset

By Robert Clinton, Opinion Editor

Old wounds linger and living with pain is something most people put up with at some point in their lives.  

However, sometimes playing through pain comes at a cost and minor aches turn out to be something a little more serious.

For Comet infielder turned pitcher Nancy Bernal, the cancellation the 2017 season may have been the best thing that could have happened to her.

Instead of playing a full season, Bernal had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus tendon in her knee.

“It hurt since I was in middle school, but it didn’t really bother me until I started to play softball,” Bernal said. “I knew I should have gotten an MRI, but I thought I could play through the pain.”

After joining the Comet softball team in 2016, Bernal took a ball off her right knee, a knee that had already hurt for some time.

Bernal was not interested in softball in high school, she began to play as a hobby and a relief from doing paperwork during her duties assisting Athletic Trainer Mikel Jackson in the Training Room.

Bernal hopes to be a paramedic in her years after leaving Contra Costa College.

Over the last two years, Jackson said Bernal has filled a voluntary field experience role within the CCC sports medicine department.

“She assists in everything from pre-participation physical exams to emergency first aid,” Jackson said. “This has prepared Nancy for almost anything that she will see or experience as an EMT/paramedic,” Jackson said.

Her time in the training room left Bernal familiar with the exercises needed to rehabilitate her surgically repaired knee.

After successfully rehabbing an injury, she harbored since middle school, Bernal, not a pitcher, is ready to throw the first pitch for CCC on opening day.

Softball coach Karolyn Gubbine said, “I’m really proud of Nancy. I think that she’s put in a lot of work over the past few years and she’s made a massive improvement. I would have loved to be able to see her play last year to see what she could do. It sucks that she had to have surgery. She had a lot of unnatural strains on her body that got compounded because she compensated for them.”

Bernal switched to pitcher during her rehab as a way to decrease the amount of time spent in the crouched position that is demanded to play her usual infield positions.

“It’s different pitching. Defensively, I only have to cover home and when you play second base, it’s like being the brain of the team,” Bernal said.

Although she hasn’t decided completely what position she likes playing best, for now she says pitcher because it puts the least amount of stress on her knees.