Some girls dance, some girls cheer, and some girls are out on the playing field. The women of Florida State athletics are intensely competitive whether scoring goals or serving aces. For the FSU softball team, junior Tiffany McDonald pitches. She strikes out opponents.
The 20-year-old Washington native initially became involved with softball when she was six. McDonald played throughout high school and on travel teams. She was recruited by FSU, turning down many other schools.
At first McDonald wanted to stay on the West coast for college, but after speaking with the softball coaches and visiting the campus, she decided FSU was where she wanted to be.
"You're allowed five visits during the recruiting process. I still had two more visits left," said McDonald. "It was my first visit, my favorite visit."
McDonald is one of four pitchers on the team. Everyday, practices run from three to five, and an hour more for pitching.
"I think time management is the most difficult part of FSU softball," said FSU sophomore and teammate Kayla Collins. "Especially being a pitcher, which requires an even bigger time commitment. It sometimes is hard to fit everything into a day."
Everyone has different schedules, obligations and priorities. For softball players, it is no different. On top of practicing, conditioning, running, spending time in the weight room and doing stadiums isn't an easy feat.
"There is more to athletics than just what happens on the field," said FSU senior LaShaun Davis. "There is a lot of preparation and exhaustion: physically and mentally, at times."
Sometimes players get hurt. McDonald came into college with an injury, clearly not ideal.
"Freshman year, coming in, not knowing what's going on, you already have to jump into a collegiate sport, which is stressful in itself, (then) all of a sudden you have an injury," said McDonald.
McDonald had partially torn a ligament in her elbow. Thankfully, it was not fully torn and she recovered.
Of course, the team's hard work does not go without reward.
"My favorite FSU softball memory is winning regionals against Georgia last year to take us to super regionals," said FSU sophomore Melissa May. "I have never felt as though I were a part of something so big and so important before. It was amazing."
The team travels to away games, which means studying on the bus and not getting to sleep at home. The benefits, however, include time to bond with each other and the team's company.
"You hang out with people on the team, and it's a lot of fun," said McDonald.
Sponsored by Nike, the girls on the team are provided with a sweat suit, warm-up attire, practice uniforms, a couple pairs of shoes, sunglasses, headbands for games and more. The team has four uniforms. They get a new style every year.
"Half my closet is full of garnet and gold stuff," said McDonald. "We are really very privileged to be able to have the stuff that we have."
Aside from Softball, McDonald is currently enrolled in 15 credit hours, is a member of R.E.N.E.W. (Realizing Everyone's Need for Emotional Wellness) and was recently accepted into the Exceptional Student Education Program. After graduation, she plans to go into teaching.
"I would really like to coach as much as I can," said McDonald. "But teaching is really what my passion is."
As for the more immediate future, the team has a goal they've yet to accomplish: the World Series.
"We've yet to make it to the World Series," said McDonald. "So hopefully in the next few years we can do it."
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