West Jefferson senior Emily Stevenson spent weeks at a time away from home during the summer travel softball season.
The standout lives in West Jefferson, but has played the last couple years with Indiana Magic, an elite travel organization based in Indianapolis. Needless to say she’s grown accustomed to being away from home.
That comfort level with being away from family for extended stretches will serve her well over the next four years, as she recently inked her name to a National Letter of Intent to play softball at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell a Division I university located in Lowell, Mass., which is roughly 35 miles from downtown Boston.
“Being away from family won’t be much different than when I played travel,” Stevenson said. “I’m quite use to it, it’ll be a transition getting acclimated to not seeing them every day, but they’re going to make it to as many games as they can. They’re going to travel to Florida and to Georgia or wherever we play that’s warm. I’ll probably see them every six weeks or so, so it won’t be too bad.”
Stevenson, who plays catcher on her travel squad and mainly first base for West Jefferson, had opportunities to play her college ball much closer to home. She chose UMASS-Lowell over Ohio State University, the University of Dayton and Bowling Green State University.
“It was a long process, but my friends, family, coaches and all my teachers helped me get to where I am today, I’m really appreciative of everything everyone has done,” she said.
“Lowell is the place I fell in love with the most. The coaching staff, I have a long-lasting relationship with (coach Danielle Henderson) and all of the other people there. The location, it’s where everything is happening right now, it’s an upcoming university and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
West Jefferson coach Jim Stevens knew early on that he had a player in Stevenson who could one day play Division I softball in college.
“I pretty much knew when she came in her freshman year,” the coach said. “She was talented, but it was the transition she made from her freshman to sophomore year, she really matured as a player. She really picked the pace of the game and showed what she could do, by her sophomore year everybody else knew it.”
Having more and more athletes go on to play college ball is a growing trend for the West Jeff program. There are more kids with the talent to play at the next level still in the program and Stevens said he’s there to help them achieve their goals.
“It’s a proud day for Emily and her family, but also a proud day for our program,” he said. “We as coaches strive to help these girls accomplish anything they want to do, if it’s to go on and play college ball then that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve been blessed to have the type of talent we’ve had. We’re doing a small part, we’re steering the boat and they’re doing all of the work. It feels good to see all of their hard work pay off.”
Having now signed her Letter of Intent, Stevenson is preparing herself for her senior year and a summer of playing a little bit closer to home.
“With my teammates on Indiana Magic it was really good to play at that level and travel and go everywhere with them, it allowed me to see things differently,” Stevens said. “It opened my eyes that traveling away would help me get further. This summer I’ll be closer to home and will get a chance to spend a lot more time with my family and friends.”
Stevenson is now on the 18-U Ohio Outlaws Gold team.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.