The U.S. softball team had their hearts set on winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics this year, but fell to Japan, ending the game 2-0 and winning the silver medal.
Though the American women had hoped for better, they walked away proud of their efforts and grateful for the chance to play at the Olympics. Several team members shared that it's difficult to accept defeat but they know God has a bigger plan for them.
Outfielder Janie Reed says she puts her faith first when coping with the downfalls of playing professional sports.
"Going through times of fear or disappointment is not easy, but we can know God will use those times to produce perseverance in us," she said. "It's up to us to decide if we are going to use these situations to find joy, knowing God has a lot of fruit to produce in us as a result."
Reed continued, "I feel so blessed to have such a spiritual powerhouse of women around me, but I need to stay connected to them. They help keep me accountable, and I can do the same."
Catcher Aubree Munro describes herself in her website bio saying, "I'm a believer in Jesus Christ & that through Him all things are possible."
Munro said playing in the Tokyo Olympics was a "gift" from God and she had no regrets.
"God has used softball to mold me, teach me, and ultimately to save me," she shared. "Forever grateful for that gift. And forever grateful for friends that are the kindness of God personified and teammates that have helped me run this race."
Slugger Kelsey Stewart, whose Instagram bio includes the phrase "Sister In Christ", hit a walk-off homer to send the U.S. to the final Olympic match. Of course, losing the gold wasn't what she had dreamed of, but she posted that she's still "blessed and highly favored."
And pitcher Cat Osterman wrote on Instagram that it was an honor to represent the USA and the journey was well worth it. "I'm proud of the fight, passion belief and effort this team put into every single pitch of these Olympic Games. I gave my all to this journey. This team. This organization. I'm leaving USA Softball with an ever bigger family."
Osterman, 38, is considered a veteran in softball but continues to inspire younger players by reminding them that all things are possible with God.
"I'm not 'young' but a reminder to those that are, that your age doesn't keep you from doing great things for the Kingdom of God," she wrote on Instagram. "You can be a light, an example, and a doer regardless your age."
In the post, she referenced 1 Timothy 4:12.
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
The players are so passionate about their faith that they even launched a softball ministry.
Reed and Munro are among a group of national team players that started Church on the Dirt. The mission is to combine faith and athletics by sharing God's Word with coaches, families, and athletes when they are unable to attend church.
Softball is not scheduled to be part of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, however, the World Baseball Softball Confederation is trying to get the sports back into the 2028 Olympics.