Softball opens at Crimson Classic this weekend and GoPsuSports.com caught up with senior captain Steph Viola from Millersville, PA:
Q: How did you first get involved in softball?
A: I was always an active child. T-ball was the first organized sport I played. Softball was the next step up after that.
Q: For how many years have you been playing?
A: I started playing t-ball when I was 5, softball started at 9. So I guess about 17 years.
Q: Why did you choose to play for Penn State?
A: I am from PA so staying home to play was a natural choice. Penn State is such a tradition-rich university, I immediately fell in love with the sense of pride and unity in athletics. Academics were another big selling point. I realized early that a degree from Penn State means a great deal and I would have the opportunity to receive a top-notch education.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome both on and off the field?
A: I received a back injury my first week of practice my freshman year. It caused me to miss out on a lot of team conditioning and drills. It has been a great lesson in patience and has taught me how to support my team by being more vocal than I would normally feel comfortable being. I have also suffered some personal loss over the past four years that has taught me the value of each day and the importance of enjoying this opportunity.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
I am planning to attend graduate school and pursue a masterí»s degree in counseling and special education. I would then like to work at a university counseling student-athletes with learning disabilities.
Q: What is the most important thing you have learned during competition that can be used in other areas of your life?
A: I have learned how to work with people from various backgrounds. I learned that I do not always have to share the same beliefs and ideas to mesh well on the field. I have been teammates with people from all over the country. Each one has taught me the importance of individuality.
Q: What has been your greatest achievement?
A: I am very proud of what I have accomplished academically, I have been honored by both the Big Ten and the University. Being named team captain is also important to me. I am proud that I have been able to gain the trust and respect of my teammates and coaches.
Q: Do you have any role models, and why do you look up to these individuals?
A: There are several people that I look up to and respect as role models. These people all share the same characteristics. They demand respect for their programs, they have the drive and desire to truly help others, they are caring, patient, and understanding, and they whole-heartedly dedicate themselves to their cause and are willing to stand up for what they believe is right.
Q: What are some of the things that you want to accomplish before your college career is over?
A: This is my last year so this is a tough question. We have a group of underclassmen that is capable of amazing things. I want to do whatever I can to make them better and help them to understand what it means to have the opportunity to play here so they can get the most out of their careers. On a team level, I want to get to the top of the Big Ten. I would love to help the program finish in the top three. Also, with the new regional format, I want to contend for the super-regionals.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy hanging out with friends and teammates and doing everything "normal" college students get to do everyday. My favorite off-time activity would have to be going on road trips. I like to be able to take off for a day or two and go somewhere I usually doní»t get the chance to.
Q: Between school and playing a sport how do you find time for yourself, and how do you balance all the activities?
A: I have always kept myself busy. All throughout high school I was always doing sports or doing something with clubs. In college I have learned that you have to plan some time for yourself. You find a way to be able to relax and take a few hours off from the hectic lifestyle. Sometimes we get so caught up in academics and softball that it takes over your life. You learn how to finish what needs to be done and also take some time to be a college student.