2A softball MVP: San Juan's Tatiana Su'esu'e
Tatiana Su'esu'e wrote down her goals before each game of the season, a list of objectives her coaches had called "I Wills."
I will control my emotions, she wrote.
Su'esu'e had set out to prove that she belonged in a Bronco uniform last season as a freshman on the San Juan softball team, trying to embarrass older batters with her pitching and swinging harder at the plate against older hurlers.
Her father had prepared her for the challenge. For as long as she could remember, he had come home from working at the mill and hit balls and threw pitches to his daughter for hours each night until the sun set on the tiny Four Corners town of Blanding.
I will throw each pitch effectively, she wrote.
Su'esu'e was a first-team all-state selection as a ninth grader, but the season had left her wanting more. The Broncos made it to the championship game, and the coaches sat the girls down and told them to remember the feeling after the loss.
Su'esu'e did not want to feel it again.
As a sophomore this season, Su'esu'e dialed herself before each game as she threw back and forth with her catcher, each player repeating her objectives with every toss.
I will throw inside and outside.
The team had grown closer this year, she felt, always getting together to watch movies or sleep on the softball field, staring up at the stars glowing over the Colorado Plateau.
I will control the tempo of the game.
Su'esu'e was a force in the circle, amassing a record of 16-2 heading into the championship game against Enterprise. At the plate, the sophomore was a batter opposing teams hated to face. Her 14th home run of the season forced extra innings in San Juan's quarterfinal matchup with Millard. Her 15th put the Broncos into the title game.
And it was Su'esu'e who came racing across the plate for the winning run in the championship.
There were fire trucks waiting for them when they returned, to take them, lights and sirens blasting, down Blanding's Main Street, past the grocery store and then back up to the high school.
They gathered in a circle and rattled off the same cheer they started each game with, growing louder and louder until the words could be heard blocks away.
And Su'esu'e thought it strange to feel so young and yet so complete.