Recent Biddeford High School Graduate, Charlotte Donovan, spoke with us about the impact her grandfather had on her love for sports. She discusses how she learned to overcome challenges and shares her journey of shifting her mindset from perfectionism to enjoying the game and cherishing the support of her family, teammates, and community.
“I grew up playing pass with my grandfather, Tom. He and I would play pass in the yard a lot. No matter what, he always took the time to do that with me.
I remember once he came to play directly after he was done with eye surgery. I was worried about that because I didn’t want him to get hurt, but he wasn’t worried even a little. It didn’t matter what was going on in his life: he always made time for me and was always supportive.
I always thought he was going to see me play in college, but unfortunately that won’t happen. The year he passed away, we lost states. My grandfather was always the type of guy who lived his whole life in the moment. He surrounded himself with good people and was successful because of it. I really looked up to him and admired him.
Sometimes, when I get nervous on the field, I think of my grandfather. If he could be brave, then I can be too. Instead of thinking about the stresses of tomorrow and worrying about the “what-ifs” in the present moment, I’m learning to let it go.
My interest in sports also came from my dad. He has coached me my whole life and coached my siblings as well. I would definitely say that my drive from sports comes from him. We’ve built a bond through our love of sports. He’s not just my dad, he’s my best friend.
We would spend a lot of time on the weekends working toward my sports goals. I’ve always had the mindset of a winner. I don’t like losing. I think maybe he saw a little bit of himself in me and wanted to help me realize my goals. My father has built me as a player, and I built him as a coach.
In 2022, I was a Junior at Biddeford High School and was awarded Varsity Maine Player of the Year in both softball and volleyball. It was such an amazing feeling. During my last softball season in 2023, we made it to regionals but unfortunately lost.
I tend to be a perfectionist, which doesn’t always go over well when you play a game of failure. Softball sometimes seems that way, and I don’t like failure. I’ve always tried to be mentally strong and be a person someone can look up to when they are struggling.
I always tried to be the voice of the team and cheer people on with positivity, but sometimes when you have all that pressure to do well, it can be hard to stay positive. I didn’t want to feel like I was failing anyone.
In some ways, that made me lose a little love for the sport for a while. I focused so much on winning and being perfect that I forgot what it was I loved about the game to begin with.
When you’re playing, especially on a high school team, you’re representing your whole town. It is an honor to be able to do that, and it means a lot. But everyone is there looking at you, and you want to make your hometown look good. To think that so many people are relying on you, that’s an overwhelming experience. It makes you feel like you feel you have to be perfect all of the time.
About halfway through my high school career, I started to change my mindset. I began looking at softball like I did when I was younger, and fell back in love with the sport. It’s cool to see how successful we were at the end even though my mindset changed. I stopped focusing on perfection, and stayed strong for myself and my team.
I realized too that the people in attendance were there because they wanted to watch us play their favorite game and have fun doing it. Sure, there are times when you have to buckle down and be serious, but it’s all a game and it’s not going to be the deciding factor as to whether or not you have a great life.
If you make it fun, have great group friends and stay positive, that’s all that matters. It’s having a connection with the community that counts the most. I’ve learned that letting go of those negative, self-deprecating feelings makes you a better player.
In the future, I hope to be healthy and lucky enough to continue playing and get through college and hopefully have a happy life. I’m currently studying Business Administration and Entrepreneurship at Southern New Hampshire University. My goal is to get into the hotel management business, and maybe one day, own my own softball facility.
I’m also still playing softball, in Division 2. We’ve had practices that are pretty tough but I absolutely love it. We have a great team and I love the coaches. I do wish that my grandfather could see me play now.
Losing him was such a big wake up call. I just know that so many things can go wrong in an instant and I just don’t want to take anything for granted. I like to live in the moment, but I don’t want to say it so many times that I jinx myself.
I believe if you put good things into the world, good things will come back to you. Nothing is set in stone. I live in the moment. Tomorrow is a new day. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I hope it’s something.
I’m so thankful for my parents, coaches and community for their support. From the time I was small to now. I've always been super appreciative of my teammates who are like a second family to me.
And a shout out to my grandmother, our 'lucky charm,' who attended every game away and home. She was such a trooper. She used to make her own trail mix that we’d all go crazy for at games. It’s the little things like that you remember for a lifetime.
The people I’ve talked about — my grandfather, father, mom, siblings, friends and team members — they are the system I fall back on when things get tough. And for that, I’m endlessly grateful.”
— Charlotte Donovan, Biddeford High School Graduate