Coming In Hot
Thursday, June 10, 2021
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... I don’t do the most, but I do a lot … I’m coming in hot.
The music of Lecrae and Andy Mineo echoes throughout Cowgirl Stadium as Oklahoma State University agricultural communications senior Chelsea Alexander walks to the plate, intensity evident on her face.
That intensity remains a constant for Alexander, especially in academics for herself and the other three Ferguson College of Agriculture students who compete on the nationally ranked Cowgirl Softball team: Logan Simunek, agricultural communications senior; Jules Callaham, animal science sophomore; and Kelly Maxwell, biochemistry and molecular biology junior.
These women have pursued their athletic careers through Cowgirl Softball and found their academic futures within the Ferguson College, Simunek said.
Balancing academics and athletics is not an easy task, Alexander said.
In addition to regular classwork and homework, the girls balance team meetings, practices and the more than 50 games on the schedule each season. They average four hours a day in practice time and attend classes each day, Alexander said.
“School and softball can be a lot,” Maxwell said. “But making a plan each day and working hard to not fall behind is really important for all of us if we want to have an opportunity to play on the field.”
Maxwell plans to attend medical school and knew choosing BIMB as a major would be a challenging and competitive option when applying for graduate programs, she said.
“OSU is known for its agricultural school,” Maxwell added. “It’s really cool that I can say I am a part of the college even though I didn’t grow up in agriculture.”
The girls are extremely diligent in their schoolwork and on the field, said Kenny Gajewski, OSU Cowgirl Softball head coach.
“I’m envious of what they have,” Gajewski added. “What sticks out to me is how dedicated they all are to what they want to do and what they want to be.
“I don’t worry if they need to miss an hour of practice for school because I know where they are and how important it is to them,” he said.
Although each girl plays a different role on the team, they all work hard and find ways to excel, Gajewski said.
Callaham and Alexander are both outfielders for Cowgirl Softball. Simunek and Maxwell are pitchers for the team.
Alexander said finding a way to stay on top of their academics while taking time to focus on softball takes a lot of work, but the friends and professors from the Ferguson College make it much easier for each of them.
“I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my schoolwork,” Alexander said. “But our professors in the Ferguson College are really understanding, and having people in our circle helping us do what it takes to succeed makes it so much easier on all of us.”
Alexander said she did not count on playing softball in college but did always plan on coming to OSU.
When she looked into playing softball at OSU and met her Ferguson College professors, Alexander knew she was going to have the helping hand she needed to continue her softball career while pursuing her academics, she said.
“My favorite thing about the Ferguson College of Agriculture is all of the support,” Callaham said. “It’s amazing when professors and advisers really want to see us succeed in both school and softball. They work hard to help us be successful in the classroom and on the field.”
Gajewski said Callaham is a great student and softball player because she is locked in on her path for both her academics and athletics.
Callaham said she plans to attend veterinary school.
“She is laser-focused in her studies and on the field,” Gajewski said. “She takes both very seriously.”
Alexander said one of her favorite parts of being a student in the Ferguson College is all of the people who support the team who have ties to the college but the players might not know about them.
“The Ferguson College community reaches so far at OSU and in Stillwater,” Alexander said. “There are so many people who come watch games or help out, and none of us have any idea they are part of the college.
“The Ferguson College family runs so deep and wide,” she added. “We don’t even know all the supporters we have throughout the college, university and Stillwater.”
Simunek said an important part of being a student in the Ferguson College is her classmates and peers within the college.
Simunek plans to continue her love of softball after college by giving pitching lessons and hosting softball clinics until she finds a marketing job.
Alexander, Simunek, Maxwell, and Callaham play a large role in the Cowgirl Softball team, but they’re leaving a footprint in the Ferguson College of Agriculture, as well, Gajewski said.
“The balance between athletics and academics isn’t always easy,” Alexander said, “but it’s worth it.”
Story by Christine LeClear, Cowboy Journal staff