By Jayden Presley, Sports editor
Sydnee Pawlak moved many places during her childhood before settling into her hometown of Madison, Mississippi, but she said University of Montevallo’s beautiful campus influenced her decision to stay and play softball for the Falcons.
“There’s a reason that I kept coming,” she said, referring to when she visited UM during the recruitment process. “I really loved the environment here, and I loved how small it was. It wasn’t too far from home, but it was far enough.”
Pawlak lived in Texas and Florida when she was younger, used to living in bigger cities than Montevallo. She started small at age 4, playing T-ball before working her way up to be a collegiate softball player.
She said her parents noticed how she took the game seriously, when most children playing T-ball “just run everywhere.” After turning 8, Pawlak played softball year-round.
She decided to play softball at the collegiate level when she was 14. She knew she needed to start looking for schools to continue playing, but college coaches came to her, inviting her to go to softball camps and campus visits.
“Going through the recruiting process was really hard for me. I was really shy. It forced me to work on my communication skills and be able to actually talk to people,” said Pawlak.
Pawlak said softball improved her leadership skills, and her favorite part is meeting new people.
“I only have a few more years left to play, but I still love it,” she said. “I’ve met some of my best friends through softball, and I know they are going to be my best friends for the rest of my life.”
Pawlak is a sophomore exercise and nutrition science major who plans to apply for a physician assistant studies program after college. She is also considering taking a gap year to intern at hospitals.
When she was younger, Pawlak had the impression that college and athletics would be difficult to balance. She said she finishes her schoolwork early in the week so she can focus on games on weekends.
“I’m really surprised with myself, actually. I’m a bad procrastinator,” she laughed, “but I’ve worked on it. I think a lot of it has to do with taking it week-by-week.”
UM’s softball team record is 12-10 as of March 13. Pawlak said the team has a good schedule to help them go to the Gulf South Conference.
“We’re struggling a little bit right now, but I think we are finally hitting that turning point where it’s just up from here,” she said.
Her favorite moment from last season was beating the University of West Florida in the GSC. So far, her favorite game moments this season is when she is on base and one of her teammates hits a home run.
“We’ve had a lot of clutch home runs in games this season. That never gets old,” Pawlak said. “My biggest goal right now is to be a catalyst for our lineup. I’m focused on getting on base and having people score me.”
She strives to fulfill her role as an infielder and keep scoring from the bag, confident that her team can finish with a successful season.
Jayden Presley is the sports editor for The Alabamian. She is a sophomore mass communication major, concentrating in multimedia journalism, and also minors in creative writing. She enjoys writing in her spare time, drawing and playing video games.