July 18, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - In today's development of athletes, there is never the question of how one arrives toward accomplishing their goals, with it always being through time commitment, dedication, skill and hard work. And one thing that also never changes is that many aspiring collegiate athletes get to where they want to be through the influence of role-model figures in their own sport.
For younger aspiring softball players, Carrabelle, Fla. was the place to be on July 12 as rising sophomore Lindsey Peppers of the Florida State softball team spoke in front of nearly 600 people at the Dixie Softball State Tournament Banquet. With many participating players, coaches and parents listening to Peppers give a speech entitled "Choices," she ended up doing what so many FSU softball players do for their nearby communities - inspire them.
Peppers, a Tallahassee native who was a successful three-sport athlete at Maclay High School, shared her wisdom of what it takes to reach goals and emphasized how important it is to make wise choices during one's youth. Her near four-minute speech made a strong impression on her captive audience, enriching each player with a proper mindset to stay dedicated toward the game while fulfilling their goals in life.
"I talked about the many choices I had to make to get where I am today," Peppers said of her speech. "I described how their choices don't start when they get to college. It starts early in high school. I included my personal choices because it keeps them more interested and allows them to relate. I tried to motivate them to stay dedicated and keep a good attitude in everything that they do."
Peppers made every bit of her high school experience count after standing out in volleyball, basketball and softball. She was a five-year performer on the varsity softball squad, a team captain her final three seasons and earned several academic and leadership-related accolades that conveys the idea to today's youth that athletes are more than just on-the-field performers.
With all her personal accomplishments helping make her the student-athlete she is today, Peppers felt obligated to relay her message to everyone on hand at the banquet. More than just keeping them motivated to play softball, she wanted to give them some life lessons that would impact their lives even greater.
"I feel like the message I sent to these girls is that they can accomplish their goals in life if they stay committed, work hard, and have a good attitude," Peppers added.
Director of softball operations Anthony Santiago first brought up the idea of speaking at the Dixie Softball State Tournament in an email sent to the entire team. After Tiffani Brown made her impression with a strong speech last season, Peppers jumped at the chance to be this year's Garnet and Gold role model.
The FSU softball strength and conditioning award recipient was not only honored to have the chance to speak in front of hundreds of interested attendees, she got to see an immediate response that was overwhelming at times but thoroughly exciting.
"Many girls told me that they wanted to be like me," Peppers said. "Hearing that made me realize how big of an impact I was making on these girls. They look up to me as someone they want to be in the future. Their compliments motivate me to continue being a leader and to never lose sight of my personal goals.
"When they lined up for an hour asking me to sign cups, bags, tournament passes, bandanas and arms it was a reality check for me. I never realized until that moment that I was impacting their lives as much as they were impacting mine."
The benefits that Peppers soon realized after giving her speech are just one of several positives involved in the Seminole softball program. With community service held to the highest standard by head coach Lonni Alameda, the team has numerous opportunities to influence all types of age ranges.
"We love to see the impact we are having on our fans and the community. Being part of this program has made it easier for me to gain opportunities to help in the community," Peppers added. "My personal benefit is mainly that a year ago I was in the same shoes as those girls. A year ago I was not an FSU softball player and I am trying to make the most of all the opportunities that have presented themselves to me."
Based on her first-year results, Peppers is on the fast track toward a rewarding collegiate career while making a difference in the lives of many along the way. Her mammoth impact on players, coaches and families last Thursday night proves she is only in the beginning stages of what could be the most memorable four years of her life.