The Appalachian State University softball team shares experience of life-long
injury, family, and balancing education with softball.
Katie Williford, pitcher, has been playing softball for fifteen years so the sport has become a very important part of her life. However, in her sophomore year she injured her lower back (L4L5 disk) from lifting weights over time. In March of her sophomore year 2016, she went into
surgery but there was a mistake. Her surgeons accidentally cut the iliac artery so only three days later she had to go into heart surgery. For four months, she couldn’t bend or twist because of her back. For seven months, she couldn’t play softball. For the rest of her life, Williford will be wearing a heart monitor. If the monitor goes above a rate of 200, she has to take a break otherwise a blood clot will form in her calf and threaten her life. She didn’t come back to softball
as easily as before but she definitely appreciates the game’s impact on her life more. “For the rest of my life, I’ll have issues with my heart” Williford said. Williford graduates from ASU in May as a senior in special education with specialization in mental disorders and a master in autism. She plans to be an elementary school special education teacher.
Sidney Russell, utility, is in her second year playing softball and always looks forward to the bus rides with the near twenty girls on her team. Russell recounted a story where she had to crawl to the front of the bus and accidentally flew back. Although she has faced larger obstacles on the field, she has fallen and broken her wrist sliding to a bag forcing her to be out last fall. In January, she got much stronger and has had little trouble in the past month although she fears facing arthritis in the future. Normally, in the fall it is easy to balance school and softball but
during the season she has to organize and plan carefully each day. Sometimes she even has to do her homework on the bus. She is currently working toward her Exercise Science major with a minor in nutrition. Russell has always grown up around a healthy lifestyle so that gets her very
excited about it. While she considers the many girls in her team as family, she has no shortage back home. Russell has thirteen cousins just on her dad’s side so there’s typically over thirty people visiting on the holidays. “On my dad’s side, I have thirteen cousins so there’s at least thirty people around the holidays,” said Russell, “It’s nice to have a family here and a family
when I get home.” Her family lives in Charlotte, so they aren’t far from visitable but having her
team here definitely makes living so far easier on her. Russell used to obsess over gameboy as
a child. She loved playing games like Pacman and Build-a- Bear.
Keri White, third-base, is currently in her second year of playing softball. White considers the sport extremely team oriented but not just for the events that happen on the field. For her, a better team is crafted when players go to dinner together, have huddle talks, and enjoy the post-game fun. The team will often engage in freestyle rap while on the bus where they listen to instrumental music and go around making up lyrics. For White, the team is her family outside of her family back home. The team is her entire life along with school. “This team is my family,” said White, “We’re all together on this”. Her family back home is a good four hours away, this
doesn’t seem far but for a full-time college student the eight hour drive round trip would be too much to handle frequent trips home. White currently studies special education and wants to be an early intervention specialist. “This lady that I’m very close with has some daughters that play softball and cheerlead. What she does is what I want to do for a job so I shadowed her and it was nice” said White. In her free time, she’ll play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with friends on their Xboxes or whatever else they have available.