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Spotlight: Kayla Morrissey

Kayla Morrissey ’18 plays an integral role for both the women’s basketball and softball teams. Photo by Jae Eun Oh
Kayla Morrissey ’18 plays an integral role for both the women’s basketball and softball teams.  Photo by  Jae Eun Oh
Kayla Morrissey ’18 plays an integral role for both the women’s basketball and softball teams.
Photo by Jae Eun Oh

Kayla Morrissey ’18 is constantly making headlines for the Pioneers, both as a member of the women’s basketball team and the softball team. The S&B’s Gabe Lehman sat down with Morrissey to discuss the logistics of being a two-sport athlete at a school with rigorous academics. The result is a lifestyle that is incredibly challenging yet rewarding.  

You are a two-sport athlete, softball and basketball. How do you manage?

I just have to stay on top of my schedule, whether that means doing my homework really early, [or] before the weekend, definitely. It has to be a priority because we are traveling. Traveling can be tough sometimes, but I would say one of the more fun things about being on a team would be getting to go places and stay in hotels and have fun and play games. It’s definitely doable, I think. There are a lot of two-sport athletes.

Did the chance to play both sports affect your coming to Grinnell?

Well, Coach [Dana] Harrold first contacted me because of basketball. So I think the opportunity to continue playing sports was a big part of my decision. But also, the schools I was looking at were held to a certain academic standard. So it had to be a good school where I could potentially play basketball. And the addition of playing softball was also really beneficial because some schools were a little iffy about that part. But Coach [Amanda] Reckamp for softball and Coach Harrold were both great about it.

Is there overlap between the two sports schedules?

So this year they actually started softball after everyone got back from winter break. And we’ve been playing basketball, so I haven’t been practicing much softball. Over winter break, though, we were here, so I got in some hitting reps and threw the ball around in the fieldhouse. I’ll only get to practice a couple weeks of softball before we actually play. But there are a couple other girls who do it, too, so it happens.

Who else is on both teams?

It is me, Lydia Stariha [’17] and Jordan Matosky [’16].

Do you three have a special bond?

Yeah, we do spend a ton of time together. It seems like I was spending so much time with those girls, so yeah I would definitely say we are really good friends because of that. Because you spend literally all year together, but it is awesome.

What would you say for both teams are realistic goals?

At the beginning of the basketball season, everyone’s goal was obviously just to make the [Conference] tournament. Because, since the 2003-04 season, we hadn’t made the tournament. We have achieved that goal now. So now the goal is to take it game by game and win the championship. I think that’s a realistic goal for this year and for years coming.

And for softball?

For softball, I would say challenge competitive teams in Conference because we did that last year. And I don’t think it is a pipedream to say that we could potentially make the Conference tournament. Whether it’s this year, or whether it is in a couple of years, I see definite improvement. We’re getting more depth and different skill sets, which is awesome.

Can you use lessons you learn from one sport and apply them to the other?

I would say there is definitely crossover in goals and values you want to exhibit in sports.

To a prospective student, would you recommend undertaking two sports—two sports that you start on?

I think I definitely would. I think playing two sports at the college level is something a lot of people don’t think about doing because of increased influence to specialize in a sport, especially if you are good at one thing. But if you love two things, or even three things like some people here, I think it is a very special experience. It opens you up to a lot of cool teammates and cool coaches. Yes, I would recommend it.

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