NOTE: This is part of a series on athletics.covenant.edu with feature stories written by the student-athletes about their time at Covenant. This series is in conjunction with NCAA Division III Week (April 3-9), an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments on and off the field of student-athletes in the NCAA's largest division.
By Kaitlyn Sirmons
(Covenant '17; Softball)
I don't remember the first time I picked up a ball, and I don't remember the first time I played a game of softball. The sport has always been a big part of my life. In fact, sports have always had a significant impact on my life. When I was in elementary school, I spent countless hours at the baseball field watching my older brother, Thomas, play throughout his middle and high school career. And if, for some crazy reason, we didn't have anywhere to be, we would go watch a basketball or baseball game at Florida State. Growing up just outside of a college town, there was always a sport to watch. And since I went to a very small high school, I had the opportunity to play four sports.
Being a Division III student-athlete has pushed me harder than I ever thought. Sure, it's pushed me physically and mentally, but it's also pushed my relationships and my spirituality. I don't know what it's like to be a DI or a DII athlete, but I would be willing to say that being a Division III student-athlete is the most challenging. You have coaches investing, pursuing and pushing you to be your best on the field and in the classroom, but you also have professors who are investing, pursuing and pushing you to be your best in the classroom and on the field. As many people are aware of, there are no athletic scholarship opportunities for athletes at Division III institutions. There is literally no incentive to play a sport at a Division III school other than the fact that you just want to.
I'm not going to lie to you, softball has been challenging. Softball is not just softball. It is not just a game. Softball is a "team" sport in every sense of the word. Everyone can play softball. You don't have to be a certain height or fit a certain body type to be good at it. I also think it's unique because the ball isn't controlled by the offense. The defense is the one with the control of the ball. It's just you, relying on 20 other girls to be on the same page as you. It's you hanging out and playing a game of catch with 20 of your closest friends. Softball is all about the people you are on a field with for eight hours on a Saturday in 30 degree weather but still can't wait to do it again the next weekend. It's about the inside jokes and seeing who can have the best tan lines. It is the teammates that still lift you up and encourage you even when they know your struggles, your weaknesses, and see you on the worst days. It's that sad feeling when your coach tells you that you have the day off so you don't get to hang out with your friends and play softball.
My time here at Covenant College as a student-athlete has surpassed every single expectation I ever had. Ultimately, and yes as cliché as it sounds, the only reason I was able to spend the past four years at Covenant College was because of the Lord's grace and sovereignty over my life. As a senior in high school, I had no idea I would be here. But looking back on opportunities and scholarships I was able to apply for, the Lord had this orchestrating back to my middle school life.
Being a Division III student-athlete, I have learned the importance of prioritizing. I didn't need to work hard and study hard in high school. Covenant College is not an easy academic school. However, it would be impossible to succeed here as an athlete without the support of professors. The truly care about us. After missing a class on a Friday for a weekend trip to North Carolina, the first thing my professor does on Monday is ask me how we played.
As a Sport Administration major, it has been encouraging to understand and appreciate what makes Covenant College, and all NCAA Division III institutions, unique. As I graduate in May, I am going to spend the summer serving in the southeast as a Missions and Communications Specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources' World Changers and P2 Missions. Then in the fall, I will continue my education by pursuing a Master's degree in Sport Administration.