Hard work and determination is what helps an athlete reach a Division I playing field, and athletes often put forth the same amount of effort or even more once they reach that level. Athletes have to juggle working toward their degrees while participating in a full athletic schedule.
The seniors on the University of Utah softball team have been living the student-athlete life for the past four years, and as their days as Utes are numbered, they are taking time to reflect on their time with the program.
“It’s exciting, and it’s a lot of different things,” said senior Katie Donovan. “You wait four years to be the senior. You have to figure out how to lead a lot more than you have had to do in the past. It is fun to take on those things and to bring up the group of girls who will grow and bring up the program. There have been lots of different emotions, and there will be many more as the season progresses.”
The three seniors on the team have devoted their past four years to the team and its success, and they are now preparing to leave behind a legacy they worked together to build. All of the hard work and perseverance they have put in is winding down, but they will not be forgotten. These three players are doing their best to pass on all of the wisdom they have garnered in the past few years so they can prepare the younger players for what is coming.
“I just encourage them to remember why we do the things we do and why coach yells at us for certain things; there is always a reason,” said Miranda Viramontes. “We have a culture here and it is very important to keep up with that culture. It is important as a senior and upperclassman to make sure that they know that and they know what to expect going forward.”
Since softball is a spring sport, these seniors are wrapping up both their academic and athletic careers at the same time, and there is a lot of pressure on them to keep up responsibilities on both ends — they are not able to relax yet because they are still working hard to keep up their softball game and their grades. Graduation is just around the corner, but there are still a lot of activities happening between now and then.
“It’s really bittersweet. I’m not an emotional person or anything, so I was like cool, I’m a senior, but then a couple of days ago I picked up my cap and gown and it really hit me,” said Heather Bowen. “I’m not looking forward to having to pay bills and go do adult stuff, so I’m just trying to enjoy my time here while I can.”
By being a part of a close-knit team, these players have created a second home at the U with their softball family.
“The girls I get to share all of these experiences with, I’ve never been closer to a group of girls before,” Bowen said. “We have a really good bond with each other.”