The Oklahoma Christian University softball plans to show gratitude to various campus personnel for their contribution of support for student-athletes at the faculty and staff appreciation game March 10.
“We always stress academics big time on the softball team and this past fall we had our highest team GPA in the program’s history,” Jessica Ruckman, associate head coach, said. “After receiving that news, we started talking about the faculty and what they do for their student-athletes. We wanted to show appreciation for what they do in order to allow our student-athletes to play and also succeed off the field in their academic pursuits.”
Ruckman said the team came up with the idea of the faculty and staff appreciation day to thank them for what they do. She said each player had the opportunity to choose someone on Oklahoma Christian’s campus who has played a major role in supporting them as a student-athlete.
“I’m excited to see who my teammates choose to accompany them,” freshman Caitlin Young said. “I think it reflects who we are as individuals.”
Ruckman said as a previous student-athlete she received more support compared to athletes at other universities.
“I hear horror stories about how professors don’t like athletes and that is definitely not the case at OC,” Ruckman said. “I love that part of this university. They still expect them to work just as hard as any other student, to turn in their work on time, but I think the love and support I was shown by the faculty carries on for me to encourage my girls and let them know the staff on this campus cares about them.”
Young chose to honor Lois Hill, who works for the U-Dining company on campus. Young said Lois was the first person she thought of when Coach Ruckman told the team to choose someone who made an impact on their life at Oklahoma Christian.
“She’s just a cute, old lady and is so sweet,” Young said. “No matter how bad my day is going, I can see Lois and she just put a smile on my face or will make me laugh. It just makes my day every time I see her.”
Twelve Oklahoma Christian faculty and staff members will accompany the team to line up on the field at 3:40 p.m. Those accompanying the softball team include professors, athletic directors and the university president.
Sophomore Kayla Eichler is honoring Don Leftwich, chairman of the mathematics and computer science department on campus. Eichler said she appreciated Leftwich’s willingness to help her with academics throughout his courses.
“He’s really good about making sure I’m able to get caught up in class when I have to miss for softball,” Eichler said. “He will re-teach the information I missed from classes and answer any questions I have related to the assignments. It’s nice to know he is willing to help me out as a student-athlete.”
Eichler said she appreciates not only how Leftwich will help with her academics but also ask her how softball games went while she was away from the classroom.
“He show that he cares about what I’m missing class for and he doesn’t let it affect the student-teacher relationship we have,” Eichler said. “He doesn’t hold it against me that I’m missing for sports because there’s not really anything we can do about it.”
Eichler said she appreciates the help as it allows her to be less stressed and focus on softball while she is away, allowing her to not worry about how missing class is going to affect her performance in class.
“As long as I show him I’m trying in class and making the effort, he’s going to make the same effort to assist in helping me succeed academically,” Eichler said.
The faculty and staff appreciation day is March 10, prior to the softball double header at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. against Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
“They might not all be down on the field Friday,” Ruckman said. “We still want to show our appreciation to every single person on this campus that has come out and supported us or helped some of our student-athletes in their classes to keep their grades up.”