Updated Wed, Apr 24, 2013 2:34 pm
Of the 20 players on Ohio’s softball roster, only seven come from the state of Ohio. The remaining 13 players represent 10 different states; from Washington and California, to Virginia and South Carolina and many places in between.
For some, the thrill of trying something new was enough to get them to make the long journey to Athens.
Junior Raven King, a native of Alpine, Utah, originally planned to play ball at a west coast school, but head coach Jodi Hermanek’s recruiting and one visit to Ohio University changed her mind.
King described herself as independent, but she recalled leaning on her older teammates her freshman year for advice on how to adjust to college and being away from home.
“If it wasn’t for my teammates, I don’t know if I could have done it,” King said.
Freshman Sloan Walker, a native of Cypress, Texas, wanted to play ball outside of her home state. When Walker first came to Athens, she felt a sense of that “southern hospitality” that she had grown so accustomed to.
“(Athens) has a very ‘homey’ feel, everybody is so polite and so nice,” Walker said.
The Ohio outfielder’s 1,200 mile journey from home has come with some difficulties during her first year on campus. Walker admitted that adjusting to her family not attending all of her games can be challenging at times.
“My teammates and their parents are just like my family, so it helps a lot,” Walker said emotionally.
The team’s upperclassmen do their best to bring the freshmen, including Walker, up to speed right away.
“We tell them that the first week is going to be rough, but we help them get into a routine,” King said. “Once we have our routine set, then everything is easy from there on out.”
The players themselves are the ones who do the traveling, but parents of out-of-state players often miss out on the chance to see their daughters play on a regular basis.
Scott Gellerman, a San Diego resident and father of senior Lauren Gellerman, has had to rely on the Gametracker online stats program and the kindness of parents in attendance to keep up with the games he can’t attend.
While Mr. Gellerman has only made it out to about 50 percent of his daughter’s games, a stark contrast from the regular attendance he showed for her high school contests, he has adjusted to the distance and supported his daughter throughout her Ohio career.
“To us, it feels all the same. Once it was not a three hour car ride, if I had to hop on a plane, it was about the same,” Scott Gellerman said. “(Ohio University) is exactly how she hoped it would be. Her best friends are on this team and at this school.”
The Ohio catcher was offered a full-ride scholarship to nearby San Diego State University her senior year of high school, but her father believes that Ohio is the right school for Lauren.
Lauren Gellerman felt slightly homesick her freshman year when her family could not come out to all of her games, but she credited her family, especially her father, for trying to make it out to as many games as possible.
“Others people’s parents are really welcoming and they would always keep my dad updated on everything,” she said. “It kind of like he was there because he would talk to me after the game and he knew just as much as I did about (the game.)”
Much of the support that Gellerman and her out-of-state teammates get remains private, according to Hermanek.
“We talked to the upperclassmen about ‘Hey, help her out, especially in the first year. Have those conversations about how to travel, how to get through the semester, time management and things like that,’” Hermanek said. “I know they do lean on each other, but I think it is more of an in-house thing.”