1. What is your name and give a brief summary of your injury and how it happened?
My name is Bella Picard and I suffered a spinal cord injury while playing in a division one college softball game on April 18th, 2015. Although I can't quite remember all of the details leading up to the incident, I've heard the story unfold from several witnesses. In the first inning of a double header against Fordham University, I took off for second on a hit and run play. The pitch was thrown far enough outside where the batter couldn't quite get a bat on the ball which caused a little delay in my steal and caught the catcher off guard when I officially decided to take off. The throw from the catcher took the shortstop into my base path which resulted in a perfect collision that jammed my head into the knee of the fielder which broke my neck.
My injury left me temporarily paralyzed on most of the right side of my body and I spent the first 2 months living in a rehab facility in Boston to help me gain some function back.
2. What are you doing to get back and what motivates you?
I’ve been continuing an aggressive therapy schedule in both outpatient therapy and at home therapy just doing as much as I can every day until my body gives out. My faith in God is my overall motivation but the other top 3 motivations for me are 1. Thinking about my future children and wanting to be the best Mom I’ve always dreamed of being for them. 2. The support from my family, friends, strangers, and the entire softball/baseball community motivates me to push even harder and show the world that with faith, heart, and determination we can do anything we set our minds to. 3. All of the people I’ve met in rehab, the people who have reached out to me sharing their career ending injuries/illnesses, and the people I’ve connected with thru the spinal cord injury community who have suffered a more permanent kind of injury ALL motivate me to make a full recovery so that I can play for those who can’t and also be a motivation for them as well to keep working hard and to stay positive and find the good in everyday.
3. What do you love about softball?
What I love about both softball and baseball is the fact that our sports force us to face failure constantly and teaches us how to become better athletes, ball players, and most importantly better PEOPLE in life itself because every great ball player knows that in order to be successful in a game of failure, they must use the failures of the game to fuel their fire. My love for the game skyrocketed after my accident when I realized how many life lessons I learned from playing it and how I can apply what I’ve learned into my life while recovering from an injury that brings failure upon me everyday just from trying to do the most basic life tasks. If I let the failures I face now in my recovery beat me up everyday instead of fuel my fire to overcome them, I wouldn’t be making the remarkable recovery I have been making. This is the main reason as to why I have so much love and appreciation for the game.
4. If you could give a piece of advice to young softball players aspiring to play college ball what would it be?
My advice to young softball players aspiring to play college ball would be to work hard and put in extra time on your own in order to learn more about your drive and how to be competitive with yourself. I’d definitely tell them to also understand that every college coach already knows what kind of ball player they need to fill their roster, so be sure to choose a school where you know you will have a good chance of playing and choose the school where you feel you will have the best college softball experience. Lastly I would advise EVERY young athlete to not get so caught up in the pressure/stress that the recruiting process can bring upon you because its so sad to see how many young athletes take their game for granted and forget to just simply ENJOY playing the game. As long as you stay competitive with yourself and push yourself to become a greater athlete than you were the day before, you will be noticed and everything else will fall into place.
5. Name one person who has inspired you in your softball career.
One person who has inspired me in my softball career would definitely be my summer ball coach named Ralph Raymond. His motto was always plain and simple, “Do it right”. Absolute legend.
6. Name your favorite softball moment.
A few weeks before my accident while playing a home game against UMASS, I looked up in the stands from centerfield and saw my Dad. That was my favorite softball moment ever because he never could get to my college games and that was the first game he came to watch that season. It ended up being the last time he ever saw me play softball in a fully functioning body.
7. Do you have any softball superstitions?
I HAVE to juggle a softball on my feet before I play because I was a soccer player my whole life and it just calms me down I guess. I also spray my perfume 3 times on my uniform. Haha. I always have said “If ya smell good, ya play good.”
You can follow Isabella Picard on Instagram. @isabellapicard