Spring 2021 Magazine

Florida State softball player Tessa Daniels shines a light on Christ

Sometimes the impact you make off the field can be more impactful than on the field.

For Florida State junior softball player Tessa Daniels, that impact is one of eternal significance.

Daniels didn’t see any action on the field Tuesday night as her Seminoles captured their first ever Women’s College Softball World Series title, defeating the University of Washington. In fact, Daniels didn’t play at all in the postseason.

But that didn’t stop her from recognizing the platform she had been given and understanding that she could make a difference for Christ.

As Florida State found itself advancing in the postseason — winning the ACC championship and then the NCAA regionals, followed by the Super Regionals — Daniels knew there would be other teams involved in each of these regionals. So she and a few other teammates came up with the idea of having a Bible study together with the three other teams: Jacksonville State, Auburn and Kansas State). From that Bible study began a movement on social media using the hashtag #4Teams1King

“I wanted a way to spread the Word and show what God was doing through softball, so I asked all the girls to vote on their favorite hashtag,” Daniels told Sports Spectrum. “Leslie Farris (Florida State) came up with the idea of #4teams1King, and the girls took hold of it and ran with it.”

Daniels said the idea of the hashtag was inspired by Oklahoma softball’s #Powerof3 from last year’s WCWS, where they were able to share the Gospel using that hashtag along with a hand gesture holding up three fingers.

“They were able to share the Gospel with a simple hashtag and hand gesture,” Daniels said, “which goes to show how God can use anyone and anything to be glorified.”

Florida State won that NCAA Regional, beating Jacksonville State, Auburn and then Jacksonville State again to advance to the Super Regionals. After losing to LSU in their first game, the Seminoles came back to beat LSU twice and claim the final spot in advancing to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

While making it to the World Series was an incredible accomplishment, Daniels saw it as another opportunity to point people back to the Name above all names.

“After we won Supers, I was encouraged to try and put together another Bible study with all eight teams at the World Series,” Daniels told Sports Spectrum. “Although we had some plans and prayers in the works, the venue fell through.”

Often times, when our plans fail, God does something even bigger and better than we could have ever expected. For Daniels, that’s exactly what happened. At an opening night dinner featuring all eight teams in attendance, Daniels was surprised to find out that she was the recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 award, meaning she would find herself standing and addressing all those who were playing in the 2018 Women’s College World Series.

“I was given the opportunity to speak, which is when I encouraged the players and coaches of all eight teams to join me in making #8teams1King known.”

From there, God did the rest. With the help of Daniels and her teammates, #8teams1King started making waves on social media, but even more, provided Daniels with an opportunity to bless other softball players in Oklahoma City with bracelets.

“I originally bought the material for these bracelets so that the girls at the Bible study could make their own — something tangible to remember the night by, which is what we did at our regional Bible study,” she told Sports Spectrum. “But since we weren’t able to have the Bible study in OKC, I decided to make some for each team in their colors to wear during the tournament. With much thanks to my teammates, and especially Dad, several of the girls and coaches on opposing teams were sporting the cross.”

Daniels said that making the bracelets for other softball players inspired her to want to spread that love to anyone who was present in Oklahoma City for the series.

“I also wanted a way to spread the Word to our family, friends, fans, and followers, so I made a few hundred more for them, which I was able to pass out before and after games (and even during — don’t tell Coach, haha).  This is just one of many ways that God has been moving at the WCWS. On my own team, it is evident that He is working in the hearts of my teammates, and it’s so beautiful to see.”

Florida State went on to lose its first game of the series to UCLA. If it were to lose again, it would be eliminated. Instead, the Seminoles went on an improbable run, winning six straight games in four days, culminating with the school’s first-ever Women’s College World Series title.

RELATED: Jessie Warren leads Florida State softball to its first ever World Series title

“For three years, I’ve prayed by myself before each game. At Oklahoma City, that changed. Leslie Farris led us in a team prayer before our games, but what overwhelmed me more than anything — even more so than winning the national championship — was when our team came together after we won the title and gave thanks and glory to our King.”

Now a national champion, Daniels says her time at Florida State has allowed her to accomplish many things, but most important is sharing the love of Christ by serving others.

“Something God has really called on my heart since I’ve gotten to Tallahassee is stewardship,” she said “We are called to be good and faithful stewards of what God has blessed us with. He has blessed me with this platform at FSU through softball, and it’s my responsibility to do all I can to lead others to the Savior I follow.”

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