Step into shoes of athletes on the road

By Teziah Howard
Jambar Contributor 

Frequently traveling can be challenging for students on collegiate sports teams. Sitting atop the Horizon League, the Youngstown State University’s softball team is consistently on the road for competition.

Megan Turner hits a ball toward right center field during a last-season matchup. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

The team has tallied over 25 wins this season with more than 15 on the road. The schedule has included traveling to states such as Virginia, New York, Indiana, North Carolina and Michigan.

Sophomore catcher Kennedy Dean said recovery is a priority on the road.

“One thing that we make sure we do is recover well. Our trainer, [Sierra Besser-Paul], does a great job taking care of us,” Dean said. “She does treatments at the hotel, before games and after games.”

Dean also said she is grateful to have a staff that cares about recovery as much as she does.

“I am just really happy that our coaches, trainers and strength and conditioning coach really prioritize the way we feel and recover,” Dean said.

Playing on the road means entering enemy territory. Dean said the team soaks up the atmosphere when playing against Horizon League opponents.

“The toughest atmosphere so far I would say has been [Oakland University]. The fans were right on top of the field, in the outfield and yelling at us the whole time,” Dean said. “We enjoyed playing in that atmosphere.”

With traveling, tournaments and multiple doubleheaders in a season, the team’s itinerary can be loaded. Senior pitcher Sophie Howell said energy is imperative.

“I would say that energy is one of the things we’ve preached on the team,” Howell said. “It’s easy to start losing energy in the middle of the season when you’re on the road constantly.”

Howell also said mindset is important for a successful game experience.

“Be confident, don’t put pressure on yourself when you’re out there, and energy will come from those things,” Howell said. “The more confidence you have, the more energy you’ll have, and the more successful you’ll be.”

The team has stayed in many places this season, including first place in the conference. Head coach Brian Campbell, who’s been at the helm over 15 years, said team development has been a standout this year.

“We have a good mixture of upperclassmen and underclassmen, and I think that is the learning process,” Campbell said. “The upperclassmen teach and the underclassmen learn what’s being taught.”

Campbell said he encourages the players to focus on the season one day at a time.

“If you look in the future and past, I don’t think you are approaching it right. By taking it one game at a time, it’s important,” Campbell said. “That’s been the mindset all season and it has helped us stand where we are now.”

The team will close out April on the road but will be back at YSU’s Covelli Sports Complex to start the month of May.