Hesston College Athletic Director Chris Nachtigall announced the hiring of Christie Bell as head softball coach. Originally from Sanger, Texas, Bell resides in Joliet, Ill.
Bell is an assistant coach at University of St. Francis (Joliet, Ill.) where she is finishing up her master’s degree in health education. She coached and taught at the high school level prior to her time at USF with stints at Permian High School (Odessa, Texas) and Estacado High School (Lubbock, Texas).
“I am very excited and honored to be given the opportunity to lead the Hesston College softball program,” said Bell. “I would like to thank Chris Nachtigall and the administration for giving me this chance and for their support. I look forward to being in a Christian environment and back in Kansas. I believe in their program and I cannot wait to continue the winning tradition that coach Andrew Sharp has built.”
Bell is familiar with the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and Christian higher education. She attended Hutchinson Community College and Oklahoma Wesleyan University. She was an all-conference player for OWU.
“Christie is committed to mentoring and developing young women on and off the field,” said Nachtigall. “We are confident she will not only add to our department but the Hesston College community as well.”
Bell will start recruitment immediately and will officially start in the fall.
It was all on the line last night for Hesston College softball. The Larks were hosting their last Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) game of the season, facing first place Johnson County Community College Cavaliers. The Larks entered the game on a 21-game win streak and with two wins, would lay claim to, at worst, a share of the conference title. In typical fashion for this group of women, they got the job done winning 4-1 in game one and 4-3 in extra innings in game two. In their first year in the KJCCC, the Larks have been crowned conference champions!
Game one had both teams’ aces on the mound. Chelsea Smith, second in the country in strike outs (221), threw for the Larks. Tested a bit more than she had been by a very good Johnson County team, she gave up four hits and two walks in her complete game, adding nine strikeouts in her 18th win of the season.
The big moment came in the 4th inning for the Larks. With one out Kaylen Lassley singled through the gap into left field. Lexi Avalos doubled to left in the next at bat giving the Larks runners on 2nd and 3rd. Then, to the joy of the many Hesston fans in attendance, Amy Bretado did what she has done all year – hit a home run. The Larks took a 3-0 lead and didn’t look back. They added a fourth in the 6th as Lassley scored from third on an error. Smith gave up a 7th inning solo shot to Johnson County, but the Larks held on to claim game one.
Game two was a nail-biter. It was back and forth the entire way. In the 3rd, Johnson County got on board with two runs. A couple of Cavalier errors in the bottom of the 3rd allowed Jenna Garcia to score on a Lassley ground ball single up the center. With two outs in the 6th, the Larks got one back on a solo home run by Adrianna Ruiz.
Then, as the sun went down, things got exciting. The 7th inning saw lots of drama. The Cavaliers scored a run on a squeeze play in the top of the inning to take the 3-2 lead and padded that lead with a two shot home run off the bat of a pinch hitter. But the lineup change had not been properly executed. When the dust settled, the batter was out and the base runner returned to second base. The Larks recorded the final out of the top half at first base and needed a run to keep the game going.
Jenna Garcia reached second base on a misplayed pop up to open the inning. Next up, Jessie Miranda struck out and Garcia was later thrown out stealing third. With two outs, Lassley was hit by a pitch and Avalos lined a single into center field to put the tying run in scoring position. Up stepped Bretado who singled to left, scoring Lassley. Bretado was thrown out attempting to advance to second base.
In the top of the 8th the Larks bent but didn’t break. A walk, single and an error loaded the bases with one out for the Cavaliers. Smith, who came in in relief in the 7th, showed why she’s one of the best pitchers in the country. Smith struck out two to finish the inning.
The Larks needed just one run to secure victory. An error, sacrifice bunt, a walk and a single loaded the bases for the Larks. Jessie Miranda came to the plate with two outs and hit the walk off single on a 2-0 count, Larks win 4-3.
“I am happy for our players and proud of each one of them,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “They have experienced quite a bit of growth this academic year and it is gratifying to see them play for each other. We are all humbled and excited for our next step.”
The Larks will host Dodge City Community College on Tuesday April, 30 in a final regular season game.
The Hesston College Larks Softball team celebrated their sophomores Tuesday night. Sophomores Lexi Avalos, Jenna Garcia, Shae Hoover, Cassidy King, Kaylen Lassley, Reese McCrary, Adrianna Ruiz and Jenna Schneider started for the Larks as they defeated Friends University JV 6-1 and 8-1. This took the Larks win streak to 21 games and 29-3 since March 18.
“It was a great night to celebrate our sophomores,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “This group has been an exceptional class to work with, and I am very proud of their achievements.”
Ruiz and Lassley led the Larks with 2 hits each. Freshman Amy Bretado hit her 18th homer of the year and drove in five runs. Bretado leads the nation with 60 RBIs and is second in the country in home runs (National Junior College Athletic Association Division II). Freshman pitcher Chelsea Smith had 17 strikeouts in her seven innings of work in game one. Smith leads the nation in saves with 5, is second with 221 Ks and tied for third with 18 wins.
Game two saw much of the same with the sophomores sharing the hits and runs. Avalos, Hoover, Schneider, Garcia and freshman Jessie Miranda each had an RBI each while Bretado had two.
The Larks will host Johnson County Community College on Thursday, April 25 in a double header starting at 4 p.m. The outcome of these games will be a major factor in determining the final Jayhawk Conference standings. Johnson County leads the conference with a 13-3 record. Highland is second at 15-5 and the Larks are tied for third with Cowley at 13-5.
Hesston College softball has been quietly putting together a pretty nice season. Their continued excellence was on display yesterday as they beat Labette Community College 5-0 and 10-4 in a home doubleheader. The Larks have won 11 straight games and 19 of 22 dating back to March 18. They now sit at 22-11 overall and 9-5 in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC), tied with Labette for fifth out of 11 Division II schools.
Game one was all about the 1st inning for the Larks. The bats quickly came alive in the bottom of the inning as Jessie Miranda singled and scored on a Lexi Avalos single. Sadie Leatherman stepped up to the plate, fouled off the first pitch and then sent the second pitch yard for a 2-run homer. Amy Bretado reached base on a Cardinal error and Paige Bittle took full advantage on the next at bat. Bittle hit the second 2-run shot of the inning to give the Larks all five runs they would need to win the game.
Current KJCCC ‘pitcher of the week’ pitched another fantastic complete game. She allowed just one hit and had 4 strikeouts.
Game two was a little nervier for the Larks. They went down 2-0 in the 2nd before scoring four in the bottom of the inning. Then the Cardinals scored two more in the 3rd inning to tie the game. The Larks pulled away in the bottom of the 3rd, scoring six.
Miranda had three hits, drove in one and scored twice. Anyssa Aguilar had two hits, scored twice while driving in one. Avalos also recorded two hits with three RBIs and one run. Bretado and Bittle both hit home runs, giving the Larks four total on the day.
The Larks will travel to Coffeyville on Saturday, April 13, then host Sterling College JV on Tuesday, April 16.
Over the last five days, the Larks have had an impressive run winning 6 of 6. Thursday they defeated Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) opponent Fort Scott Community College 11-5 and 4-3. On Friday they topped KJCCC opponent Pratt Community College 11-6 and 7-0. They finished up the five day journey with a two wins in Lincoln, Neb., as they beat Southeast Community College 3-1 and 10-2. Add these to a March 31 win vs KCKCC and a double header sweep of Tabor College’s junior varsity squad and the Lark win streak stands at 9.
The weekend started off with a massive win for the Larks. The Greyhounds of Fort Scott have had the Larks number for many years.
“Our team came together,” said head coach Andrew Sharp. “We performed well this week and are eager for a new challenge moving forward.”
Leading the Larks over the two games were Kaylen Lassley with three hits and three RBIs, Jessie Miranda with two hits and two RBIs, Paige Bittle with two hits and four RBIs and Chelsea Smith with 21 strikeouts.
“Chelsea Smith was simply outstanding,” said Sharp. “Her confidence is growing and she is starting to put together a special season. Our defense played extremely well and that’s always a good combination.”
Pratt fell at Hesston the next day. The Larks looked sharp offensively with Amy Bretado driving in five on the day off of three hits, two of which were home runs. Lassley had five RBIs on three hits as well. Sadie Leatherman and Adrianna Ruiz each homered on the day. Smith got the complete game win with nine Ks in game two.
Game one in Nebraska was pretty quiet with the bats. Two solo home runs by Leatherman and Bretado led the offense while Smith gave up just one hit with 13 strikeouts. Game two saw all of the scoring for the Larks in the 3rd and 7th innings. Lexi Avalos had four hits scoring once and driving in one. Lassley had two hits driving in three and Bretado had another home run and drove in two. It was a team effort on the mound earning six Ks.
The Larks will finish the KJCCC season over the next two weeks and have a chance to host a playoff game. Their record stands at 20-11 and 7-5 in the conference.
Hesston College softball got a rare break from the Kansas Jayhawk Community College (KJCCC) schedule and hosted Tabor College JV Tuesday, April 2. The Larks recorded two wins, 12-1 and 10-2 over the Bluejays.
Game one was highlighted by Chelsea Smith who drove in 6 on the day, including a 1st inning grand slam. Five other runs in the first all but sealed the victory early for the Larks. Smith also led from the mound, going four innings with seven strikeouts.
Game two was much of the same for the Larks. Amy Bretado was the star as she hit two home runs and drove in five. Bretado was also the winning pitcher in the game as she went four innings and struck out four.
The Larks will get back in to KJCCC play as they host Fort Scott Community College on Thursday April 4.
Hesston College softball had an excellent weekend. The Larks won 2 at home – 5-2 and 10-5 – in their first Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) games against Cloud County Community College on Friday, March 22. Sunday afternoon they made up an early season cancelation against Kansas State University Club team sweeping the doubleheader 4-0 and 10-2.
Game one vs. Cloud County saw Chelsea Smith getting the win from the rubber and Amy Bretado earning the save. Sadie Leatherman went 2-2 with a home run to lead the Larks at the plate. The 10-5 win in game two was highlighted by a big fourth inning. Lexi Avalos, Paige Bittle and Bretado all had multiple hits for the Larks with Bretado driving in three runs in the game.
Sunday, it took a while for Hesston to get rolling and a 2-run 4th inning was the needed spark. But game one was highlighted by Smith again from the mound. She threw a complete game giving up just one hit and two walks while striking out 16. The Larks committed no defensive errors and Reece McCrary make 17 plays in the field. Seven different Larks recorded hits.
Game two saw the Larks pick up where they left off in game one, scoring multiple runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th innings. Jessie Miranda went 4-4 with 2 RBI. Avalos and Bretado also had two RBI each.
Hesston College will resume their KJCCC play with away games at Highland Community College on Tuesday, March 28 (3 p.m.) and on Saturday, March 30 when they host Kansas City Kansas Community College (noon).
Hesston College softball opened their Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) season March 21, earning two wins against Allen Community College.
Chelsea Smith threw a no-hitter with seven strikeouts in game 1 to earn the win, 12-3.
Consistency was the theme for the first 4 innings. Each inning the Larks had three runners cross the plate. Kaylen Lassley, Adrianna Ruiz, Lexi Avalos and Paige Bittle each recorded multiple hits. Jessie Miranda had two-RBIs to lead the lineup.
Zero errors on the defensive side of the game were highlighted by great defense by Sadie Leatherman who saw seven chances at her position.
Game two took a bit more work as the Larks squeaked out the victory in an extra inning, winning 8-7 in the 8th. A big 4th inning saw the Larks take a 6-1 lead. Allen got two back in the 5th and took the lead in the 6th. Amy Bretado homered and Lassley and Miranda each had three hits to lead the Larks in the game. Bretado threw four and two thirds innings, giving up five hits and three runs. Smith returned in relief, earning the win over three and a third innings with four hits and four runs.
The Larks move to 7-8 on the season and 2-0 in the KJCCC. They take on Cloud County Community College Friday March 22 in Hesston at 4 p.m. and then host Kansas State University Club team on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Hesston College softball had played only two games in a month as weather kept the Larks off the field. Yesterday they rang in the post-spring break stretch with two wins at home against Bethel College JV, 6-1 and 5-3.
Game one saw Chelsea Smith on the mound for the Larks. Chelsea started the game well, striking out four of the first five batters faced and finishing the day with eight Ks.
The bottom of the first inning saw just as much production from the offense. The top of the order – Jessie Miranda, Kaylen Lassley, Lexi Avalos and Sadie Leatherman – all reached base to start the inning. Lassley drove in one with her double to right field while Avalos scored Lassley with an infield single.
Bethel attempted get back in the game in the top of the third with a solo home run. The Larks would not be out done. In the bottom of the 4th, Adrianna Ruiz hit a solo shot to restart the offense. The next two batters, Jenna Garcia and Miranda both singled bringing Lassley to the plate. Her three run bomb to right field put the Larks up 6-1.
Smith pitched the complete game win, striking out eight and giving up one run.
In game two it took a little while for the Larks to get started. Bethel took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The Larks were patient batters in the bottom half of the inning. After the first out, three consecutive Larks – Anyssa Aguilar, Jenna Schneider and Cassidy King – reached reached base on walks. A fielder’s choice gave Bethel their second out, but Miranda stepped to the plate and patiently walked, earning an RBI and bringing home the tying run, 1-1. Lassley hit an infield single to score a run and give the Larks their first lead of the game, 2-1.
Hesston extended their lead to 3-1 in the third on a King RBI that scored Aguilar. The top of the 4th made things interesting for the Larks as Bethel got two back and evened the game at three.
The Larks sealed the game in the bottom of the 4th. A Lassley sacrifice advanced Miranda to 2nd and Maleah Sandy to 3rd. Avalos hit a grounder to the outfield, scoring two.
Lassley had 5 RBIs on 3 hits on the day and Avalos added 3 RBIs.
The Larks hope to be back in action on Thursday as they travel to Allen County Community College to open up their Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference schedule.
The following sophomores plan to graduate this spring and continue their education and athletic opportunities at schools across the country. Here is where the current commits are heading:
Cross Country and Track
Samantha Trejo (Lyons, Kan.): Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kan.) – NAIA
Anawin Boonprasert (Bangkok, Thailand): Middle Georgia State University (Macon, Ga.) – NAIA
Bryson White (Fort Worth, Texas): Sterling College (Sterling, Kan.) – NAIA
Kassandra Ayala (San Antonio, Texas): Bethel College (North Newton, Kan.) – NAIA
Kaylen Lassley (Salina, Kan.): Friends University (Wichita, Kan.) – NAIA
Jade Gleason (Brush, Colo.): Bethel College (North Newton, Kan.) – NAIA
Cassidy King (Cochranville, Pa.): Lancaster Bible College (Lancaster, Pa.) – NCAA D III
Annalys Hanna (Winter Park, Colo.): Hesston College (Bachelors in Nursing) – Soccer
Hesston College is a 2-year college associated with the Mennonite Church USA. The Larks compete in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and Region VI of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Hesston College competes in fourteen intercollegiate sports.
It’s a new season for Lark softball. Head Coach Andrew Sharp leads the team for the 10th year, but it will also his last in charge of the Hesston College program. Coming off of two consecutive winning seasons in the ultra-competitive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region VI, the Larks look to continue that momentum as the join the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC).
The team’s strengths this season will center around the idea of team unity. The Larks desire to be on the same page and bring an eagerness to compete.
“We expect to hold a daily standard of a team-first mentality,” said Sharp. “We are off to a good start and I expect we will be completive throughout our conference schedule”.
The entire freshman class is expected to step up right away. This will allow the team to find that competitive edge from day one on the diamond. Lexi Avalos and Kaylen Lassley are the two top sophomore returners on the Hesston College roster. They will contribute at a high level of both offensively and defensively. The team is strong up the middle and will rely on three pitchers to add depth, talent and flexibility to the lineup.
“We are eager to get outside,” said Sharp, “but we have been productive thus far in our indoor practices. The season is quickly approaching, but we will be ready.”
The Larks will open their season at home on Saturday, February 2, as they take on Tabor College JV here in Hesston. First pitch will take place at noon. They will follow that with a road trip to western Kansas to take on Dodge City and Garden City Community Colleges. The will return to Hesston for a Wednesday matchup vs Central Community College on February 13.
The Hesston College athletic department announces that 42 student-athletes have been named National Junior College Athletic Association Academic All-Americans. To be an All-American a student needs to complete a minimum of 24 credits over the two semester school year. The 42 student-athletes represents 24% of Hesston’s total athletes on campus. Congratulations to the following students:
Named to the first team with a GPA of 4.0 were Landon Baer (North Lima, Ohio), men’s soccer; Jenna Boller (Kalona, Iowa), women’s soccer; Jeremy Deckinger (Wichita, Kan.), baseball; Jade Gleason (Brush, Colo.), volleyball; Cal Hartley (Benton, Kan.), men’s basketball; Luke Hertzler (Harrisonburg, Va.) men’s soccer; Kylee Kasselman (Claflin, Kan.), volleyball; Kate Kilmer (Goshen, Ind.), women’s cross country; Cassidy King (Cochranville, Pa.), volleyball; Kaylen Lassley (Salina, Kan.), softball; Levi Litwiller (Hopedale, Ill.), men’s cross country; Nicole Loewen (Hutchinson, Kan.), women’s tennis; Taylor Longenecker (Harrisonburg, Va.), men’s track and field; Faith Manickam (Hesston, Kan.), women’s soccer; Elizabeth Miller (Archbold, Ohio), women’s cross country; Rio Mori (Osaka, Japan), women’s tennis; Curtis Oesch (Caldwell, Idaho), men’s tennis; Hannah Rosenbaum (Richmond, Texas), women’s tennis; Jaelyn Rufenacht (Pettisville, Ohio), softball; Jenna Schneider (Lodi, Calif.), softball; Morgan Sterner (Lehi, Utah), women’s basketball; Harune Suzuki (Osaka, Japan), women’s tennis; Bryson White (Fort Worth, Texas), men’s soccer; and Sadie Winter (Newton, Kan.), women’s cross country.
Named to the All-Academic Second Team with a GPA of 3.80 to 3.99 were Sam Amarante (Lodi, Calif.), softball; Kenzie Brown (Estes Park, Colo.), women’s soccer; Andre Eanes (Harrisonburg, Va.) men’s cross country; Faith Hallmark (El Dorado, Kan.), volleyball; Zac Neely (Ada, Okla.), men’s basketball; Caitlyn Nichols (Mesa, Colo.), women’s basketball; and Payton Yehnert (Parker, Colo.) women’s soccer.
Named to the All-Academic Third Team with a GPA of 3.60 to 3.79 were Alexis Avalos (Yucaipa, Calif.), softball; Savannah Bontrager (Milford, Neb.), women’s cross country; Sierra Broce (Goddard, Kan.), women’s cross country; Annalys Hanna (Fraser, Colo.), volleyball; Jacob Harris (El Paso, Texas), baseball; Shaelyn Headrick (La Junta, Colo.), women’s basketball; Preston Judd (Hayden, Ala.), baseball; Kaede Nakada (Tokyo, Japan), women’s tennis; Miho Okuda (Chiba-ken, Japan), women’s soccer; Haley Unruh (Wilmore, Kan.), volleyball; and Lindsey Yoder (Millersburg, Ohio), women’s soccer.
Athletes, coaches and athletic staff gathered this evening to celebrate the 2017-18 school year. Participants recognized academic achievement, team success, individual accomplishment, the growth of the student-athletes at Hesston College and presented the department’s highest awards – Athlete of the Year – to male and female recipients.
Chosen by vote of the athletic department staff, the award goes to the students who best exemplify high athletic achievement, positive lifestyle, contribution to the greater campus community, sportsmanship and a strong representative of Hesston College, both on and off campus.
The 2017-2018 recipients are Ashley Yasin (softball) and Jeremy Deckinger (baseball).
Ashley Yasin has had a tremendous career. She has excelled as a nursing student and from the mound for the Larks softball team. She has amassed 31 career wins, a school record, leading the team to its best two seasons in history. Her career records also include 371.2 innings pitched and 352 strikeouts. Her most impressive statistic is leading the NJCAA in strikeouts during the 2017-18 regular season.
“Ashley has been the epitome of a team leader and a competitor,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “She has consistently performed well and has always given her team a chance to win. Ashley demands a lot of herself, and through her dedication and hard work has cemented herself as one the best athletes in school history. Her accolades are very well deserved.”
Jeremy Deckinger “has been the model of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete,” said Head Coach Kyle Howell. “He refuses to let anything, either academically or athletically, stand in the way of his success.”
Deckinger’s on field accomplishments include being top ten all time at Hesston College in each of the following categories: career RBI (52), single season hits (44), single season doubles (10), and single season RBI (36). He will graduate as an NJCAA Academic All-American, a certified private and commercial pilot and a flight instructor.
“He’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached,” said Howell, “and a phenomenal human being.”
Also recognized for their on field accomplishments were those who have received National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Regional awards.
Jerrica Brown – 2017 All Region second team, softball
Coye Campbell – All Region honorable mention, men’s basketball
Faith Hallmark – All Region first team, volleyball
Zac Neely – All Region first team, men’s basketball
Ally Steiner – 2017 All Region second team, softball
Ashley Yasin – 2017 All Region second team, softball
Hesston College competes in Region VI of the National Junior College Athletic Association. The Larks have 12 athletic programs. The Larks will join and compete in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference starting with the 2018-19 school year.
On a day meant to recognize the impact that the sophomores had on the Lark softball program, it was appropriate that they shined in two wins over Bethel College’s JV team. The Larks took game one 6-3 and game two 9-4.
Sophomores Brianna Baca, Jordan Walton, Josie Noll, Sierrah Long, Ashley Yasin, Kendall Richardson, Joceylyn Chavez, Jaelyn Rufenacht and Taylor Martin have amassed the greatest two-year win total in Hesston College softball history; 26 regular season wins in each of their seasons as a Lark. Monday night they continued their dominance. Baca went 6-6 on the night, Noll and Chavez had three RBI each and Yasin hit a home run and added to her career strikeout count, now at 343.
“This has been a great class of players to coach,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “It was fun to honor them last night and celebrate such quality careers.”
This is not the end however. The Larks will face Hutchinson Community College in the first round of the NJCAA Region VI playoffs on Saturday in Hutchinson. “We like our matchup against a very good Hutchinson team” said Sharp. “We are looking for the program to take the next step and we feel that this is the team, and Saturday is the day that this can happen.”
The game begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at Fun Valley Sports Complex in Hutchinson.
Coming from southern California (Highland), Sierrah Long thought twice about attending college in the middle of Kansas. Turns out Hesston College had a lot more to offer her than she originally thought.
As a nursing major, most schools, such as California State University-San Marcos and California State University-Monterey Bay, didn’t give her the option to do sports in addition to her rigorous career path.
“The schools said I can’t be an athlete and a nursing major at the same time,” Long said. “They thought it was too much work, and at bigger schools, athletics would come first. If I had a clinical or a class that overlapped into practice, I’d miss the class. They wouldn’t accommodate for my academics while I was playing on their team.”
Luckily, head softball coach Andrew Sharp ’99 offered her the chance to do both. And soon after that, head volleyball coach Deedee (Martin) ’02 Landes wanted Long on her team as well. Landes saw her potential even after Long had been passed over by Hesston’s previous coach.
“One day in July before coming to Hesston, Deedee called me and said she saw my recruiting video in a pile of turned away athletes,” she said. “Deedee said, ‘I don’t know why you were turned away! I want you to play for my team.’”
After consulting her parents and Sharp, Long said yes and joined the volleyball team at the beginning of her freshman year.
“I was doing both sports during the fall semester of my freshman year,” she said. “Coach Sharp would schedule softball after volleyball practice so I would always be at practice. Before volleyball games, I would have batting practice.”
This year, she figured out a way to do only volleyball in the fall and only softball in the spring, making her schedule a little more bearable, she said.
Juggling two sports wasn’t completely foreign to Long.
“In high school, I played volleyball and softball all four years,” she said. “Those coaches were able to work with me, and we split our season in half. I was a fall athlete and a spring athlete. Even now, I only have one sport to play at a time.”
After two years of playing for two teams, Long has found value in her Hesston experience. Her greatest achievement comes from being a dependable teammate to other players.
“For the volleyball team, I don’t have a scholarship, but it didn’t take away from the love that I have for the game,” she said. “I felt like they looked up to me as a leader and asked me questions about things that they needed help with. I feel like that’s an achievement in itself, to be that person that people look up to.”
Her teams give plenty back to Long and help her outside of athletics. As a faith-oriented group, her volleyball team helped with classes such as Biblical literature, a subject Long had never encountered before. And with many nursing majors on the softball team, she has a go-to group to help in that subject area.
“The volleyball team is like a built-in family,” Long said. “They were the ones who pushed me into the Hesston Experience and had me try new things and showed me the ropes. The softball team is where a majority of my core friends are. They became my second built-in family.”
While her teammates greatly influenced her time at Hesston, her coaches also became a big part of her college experience.
“Deedee is my mom at Hesston,” she said. “If I have anything to deal with, I know I can go knock on her door. Coach Sharp is the guy I go to talk to if I’m struggling on the field or if something needs to be changed.”
Both of her coaches are impressed by the person and athlete Long has become.
“The word that keeps coming to mind is ‘presence,’” Sharp said. “Her position on the field is right in the middle of the action, and that is appropriate given her play-making ability and respect she has from those playing around her.”
Landes also sees her consistency and leadership qualities on the court.
“I have learned that sometimes the best leaders aren’t those that verbally state their expectation but that lead through example and positive spirit,” Landes said. “She also has shown me how to balance the things in life that matter. She isn’t caught up in her athletic ability. She is grounded.”
by Sarah Miller ’18, first published in the Hesston Horizon.