The road that leads to college athletics is long, and at times, very difficult. Only a few find the inner strength and endurance to keep trekking when the time seems so trying. Parrish High School graduate Paige Dill is one such young lady.
Fifteen years ago Paige walked onto the red dirt of a softball field with her tiny glove in hand and never looked back. After two years as an infielder for the Miles Golden Bears, she is thankful for her faith in God and the blessing of perseverance.
“I had older sisters growing up and I remember watching them play ball,” Paige recalls. “My dad has always loved the game and taught us to play at a young age.”
Even though Paige says she has been in love with ball since stepping on the field, she gives praise to God for blessing her with athletic abilities, pulling her through struggles, and placing her on the path that led her to play softball at the college level.
“When I was younger I tried playing other sports and even tried gymnastics,” Paige begins. “And even though softball was something that took up a lot of my time, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to play softball in college and knew it was what I had to focus all my time on.”
For this extremely competitive 20-year-old, preparation to play at the college level took most her time and all the dedication she could muster. Summers, time with her family, and even her body was sacrificed to prepare for play at Miles College.
“From the age of eight to sixteen, I played travel ball and never had a summer break,” Paige recalls more thankful than regretful. “I missed out on a lot of things kids got to experience during summer because we never really got to go on vacation; I was always playing ball.”
Paige also adds that through the years of preparation she has missed many birthday parties and family reunions. “I’ve never really had a spring break in high school or college. Plus, I’ve had to have surgery, stitches, and physical therapy because of softball.”
While some of this may sound a little sappy, Paige recounts the memories with enthusiasm. She is happy with all of her decisions and thankful for her family, especially her mom and dad, who she says is the support system that keeps her motivated. Then, there are the other benefits.
“The most rewarding part of playing college ball, besides the scholarship money, would have to be just actually being there and playing at the college level,” she says with a big smile. “To know that all that hard work and all the things you missed because of softball have finally paid off. It’s a great feeling.”
Paige’s faith and reliance on God stand out about her the most to her Miles college teammates.
She recalls that many of her friends thought is was a little silly at first when she would walk off the field and pray. “They didn’t really understand why I relied on God so much to help me succeed,” she explains. “It took some time for them to realize why, but after that I would have teammates call me to pray about something or ask me for advice about things in their lives because they know I am close to God.”
For Paige, she says making it to and staying at the college level in sports begins with a life centered on God. “Then, you just have to work hard and never give up. Never let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough or you can’t do it.” 78