Lakes Alumni Takes On College Softball


1,024 miles. That is the distance that freshman Grace Dunsworth is away from home. Dunsworth is currently attending Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida and I had the privilege of interviewing the former Eagle about her experiences being not only a college student, but an athlete. Dunsworth graduated in 2021 from Lakes Community High School and was a key player for the softball team all four of her years. She not only commanded the outfield and was a key batter, but she also was a positive role model for all other players on the team. All of these qualities make it no surprise that she was offered to play collegiate softball. When interviewing Dunsworth, she spoke on her difficulty in the recruiting process. “The recruiting process was something that I tried to avoid for the longest time,” she admitted, “It wasn’t until my junior year that I started to reach out to coaches.” Starting the process that late is a very difficult thing to do, but Dunsworth still managed to secure a spot playing for the Lions, committing the beginning of her Senior year. Dunsworth did speak on what she thinks will be the most difficult part of playing softball on a high level. “I am most nervous about failing. I have always been a super competitive person and when I do not succeed I am extremely hard on myself and let it eat me away,” she said, “This is a huge adjustment I have had to make, because especially in the college game you can’t hold onto your failures.” Many athletes have trouble with the mental game, and it is challenging to get over. Dunsworth believes that this will be the hardest part of her game, but her philosophy is to try and shake her mistakes off.
Even though college sports can be stressful, Dunsworth loves the environment that Saint Leo has created, “I love how this campus is a majority of athletes and it just feels that everyone has a connection and everyone knows everyone…It has been extremely hard being away from home, but having this team has made it so much easier. I had 23 girls right off the bat as friends and I them was able to meet other people through them.” Dunsworth did not know anyone when she first arrived in Florida, but now because of athletics she has created a home away from home. The positive of having a campus full of athletes is all of them know the commitment and dedication that they have all made to the sport they play.
Even in high school, it can be difficult to balance school and athletics. At a higher level, it can be stressful to try and manage a degree while also playing sports. Dunsworth said that “Saint Leo and the coaching staff here take academics super seriously. They continue to preach that academics comes before softball. We work hard all week in the classroom and on the field, and because of this our coach gives us weekends off to give us time for us.” Many college athletes end up quitting because they feel overwhelmed or that their sport has taken over their lives. It is refreshing to see that Saint Leo’s coaching staff allows their athletes to spend time for themselves and the fact that they do not see softball as a top priority. Dunsworth is excited to continue playing softball at Saint Leo and she continues to carry what she learned from Lakes to Florida.