Softball season is in full swing, which means student athletes Kristen Gensler '11, Celeste Soto '11 and Megan Walsh '11 are each working hard to balance two full-time jobs—one on the field and one in the classroom.
"A typical week is really a rush for me," Walsh said. "If I am not running from class to practice, I am trying to squeeze in office hours or, if I'm lucky, an hour-long nap."
The women's softball team plays up to six games per weekend, and practices every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In addition to their sports obligations, the women are also committed to strong academic performance.
"I've learned that sometimes it takes late nights or waking up at 6 a.m. to finish homework or papers, but I have to get it done," Soto said.
According to Walsh, coaches encourage student athletes to put academics first. Exceptional performance is required on the softball field, but it is also required in the classroom. Gensler, Soto and Walsh all agreed that a liberal arts education has shaped them positively.
"It forces students to keep an open mind and critically think about societal norms and expectations that have been created over decades of human interaction," Soto said. "My experience in the Sociology Department has been nothing short of inspirational."
Walsh added that she feels her education has prepared her for any career path she might seek in the future.
"I have acquired a well-rounded set of skills and knowledge that I will be able to apply to various jobs. I may have studied international relations specifically, but a liberal arts major is just that—liberal," Walsh said.
According to the athletes, it is especially meaningful to see professors at games. For them, it represents an intersection of their two worlds—sports and academics. And at USD, professors and administrators are often seen cheering in the stands.
"My professor, Belinda Lum has come to a few of my games, and I think that's awesome to know she supports me as a student-athlete," Gensler said.
The women were asked to choose an influential professor to throw a pitch to them at the season opener. Gensler chose Lum and Soto asked Sociology Professor Erik Fritsvold, PhD to do the honors.
"I am really grateful to have professors who care about their students as much as they do," Walsh said. "They take time out of their personal life to come and see what I do in mine, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them."
Academic and athletic successes aside, the women said they have developed meaningful friendships and wonderful college memories during their time on the team.
"I have had an amazing time at USD, Gensler said. "My team has become my family away from home. They mean the world to me and will definitely be friends for life."
"This team has blessed me with too many memories to put into words, Walsh said. "When the coaches have to tell us to stop goofing around with each other as often as they do, I hate to say it, but in a way it's a good sign."
- Anne Malinoski ‘11
Click to view a list of upcoming softball games.