Horn’s Resiliency

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

SALEM, Ore.–  Entering her Senior Year at North Salem, the Vikings softball catcher Kaitlyn Horn has learned not to take anything for granted.  Last season, her Junior year, being canceled, taught her how to be resilient and not to take anything for granted when it comes her way.

“With knowing how up in the air things are, I won’t take any moment with my team for granted. Whether that be in summer or with my high school team. This could be my last year to play,” Horn said.  “To make the most of it I’m going to make sure I create my last few memories with the girls and just leave it all out on the field during each game and practice. I’m going to focus on my success and not dwell on my failure.

“I know I can’t achieve perfection but if I strive for it, I’ll achieve excellence and that’s all I will make this year about. My senior year is my last chance to create those moments that I will remember forever and really take in those times. I know it will be a shorter amount of time with different expectations and rules but I will give nothing less than my absolute best to remember that no matter what this year threw at me I was able to get through it with my team and know that I did everything I could to make this year the best that I could.”

Memories are there.  Bonding with her teammates in Medford her sophomore year.  Learning a new position, she’s never played, having never played catcher until her freshman year.  Seeing the program develop into what it was her sophomore year.

In the five years before her sophomore year, the North Salem program won a combined 16 games.  Horn’s sophomore year, the squad won ten games and four of their losses were by one-run and were on the cusp of the 5A playoffs in their first year in the classification.

Horn jogging back to home plate after a mound visit against Central in Scio on May 15, 2019 (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“We had gained many players that could play a variety of positions. These players had a true passion for the sport which helped out the team tremendously,” Horn described that season.  “We all worked the hardest we could at each and every practice and were able to become so close outside of softball which brought us together as a unit and we were unstoppable.”

Being versatile has been important for Horn.  Pointing towards her ability to learn different positions quickly and knowing different positions will help your team out if they need you. 

Having caught and playing the infield this past Fall for the Salem Aftershock, but she admits that her freshman year catching was difficult as she gained the arm and leg strength for the position she was playing.

“I felt adjusting to playing catcher wasn’t as difficult as expected. I mean the first year I had a rough time adjusting because I didn’t have the arm or leg strength. Thanks to my wonderful coaches, my family and friends, they had much knowledge on the position and took the time to get hundreds of throw downs and blocking in that eventually all the repetition became muscle memory,” Horn described.

When the pandemic struck in March, just as teams like North were preparing for their season, Horn admitted that the first week was nice.  But as time went on, she realized how much she had taken for granted.

The heartbreak started as Horn yearned to get back onto the diamond.

The Salem Aftershock, which Horn played on, fielded a team for a few Fall Ball games as pictured here at Wallace Marine Park September 27 against the Aloha Breeze 18A team (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“I would do anything to get my high school season back knowing that I won’t be able to play with that team again,” she said.  “My time playing for North was just an honor.”

But as reality sank in for her Junior season, a shining light emerged from it.  The Salem Aftershock 18U squad formed a team late Summer going into the Fall to play in a few tournaments.  Giving not just Horn an opportunity to play, but many of the girls on the squad one more opportunity to get live reps in while having some fun at the same time.

“I had so much fun. Due to missing my high school season it was a great opportunity to make up for not playing with my high school team in the spring,” Horn said.  “I was able to learn little techniques with my fielding and hitting and I feel like I was able to take that time to grow and progress in the little things in softball.

“Getting those reps in were very important because game time just felt natural. It didn’t feel stationary, it was more muscle memory and I was able to trust my ability more.”

The uncertainty of a school-ball season remains.  Horn is staying in the moment, admitting as well that she won’t take any moment with her team for granted.  Whether in a High School situation or a summer situation.

Like many athletes this year, it could be her last year to play and she will take full advantage of it if and hopefully when that day comes.

“To make the most of it I’m going to make sure I create my last few memories with the girls and just leave it all out on the field during each game and practice. I’m going to focus on my success and not dwell on my failure. I know I can’t achieve perfection but if I strive for it, I’ll achieve excellence and that’s all I will make this year about,” said Horn.

“My senior year is my last chance to create those moments that I will remember forever and really take in those times. I know it will be a shorter amount of time with different expectations and rules but I will give nothing less than my absolute best to remember that no matter what this year threw at me I was able to get through it with my team and know that I did everything I could to make this year the best that I could.”

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