Success with Honor: Danielle Kinley
July 28, 2009
By Greg Kincaid, Penn State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
For a sport like softball, many of the desired athletes that live on the West Coast would tend to pick a powerhouse school in California to play. Very rarely do we see a student-athlete move 3,000 miles from their hometown to play a collegiate sport, but that is the case for former Nittany Lion softball player Danielle Kinley.
Danielle Kinley just finished her senior season in the spring and has nothing to regret about spending her career at Penn State. Kinley, who resides in Carlsbad, Calif., just finished a stellar career with the Lions where she ranks among the elite in a number of statistical categories for the softball program, including finishing as the all-time leader in doubles and eighth in career RBI.
Kinley was excited about moving across country to play softball. She credits the friendly atmosphere Penn State had to offer as her reason to make the long-distance trip.
"I took my recruiting trip to Penn State and I instantly fell in love with it," said Kinley. "There is so much pride in the school and I had never experienced that before. I am really glad I got the chance to experience a new place for four years because I learned a lot from it."
Kinley had no worries about attending Penn State for a number of reasons. During her recruiting trip she realized she would be stepping into an excellent program. She also realized that coming to Penn State, her teammates would be more than just friends to her. The "family" feeling made her feel a lot more comfortable.
"The most enjoyable part about being a student-athlete at Penn State is the camaraderie with teammates," she said. "When I got to Penn State I didn't know anyone, yet I automatically had a new family of 18 girls. I also just love to compete, and being a student-athlete at PSU enabled me to do that at a very high level."
She was loved by her teammates during her time at Penn State. Her leadership and ability to get clutch hits were just a few qualities that made her teammates to look up to her. But it was more her perseverance and sportsmanship what they liked most about her.
Kinley spent the majority of her softball career playing in the outfield, the position that was her first love. However, following her junior season, she was forced to have shoulder surgery and was unable to get all of her arm strength back in time for the start of the season. This forced head coach Robin Petrini to move her to first base. Kinley quickly adjusted to the position en route to an outstanding senior season.
"I like first base a lot and I have become very comfortable there," she says. "I will always consider the outfield my home, but my shoulder surgery prevented me from being able to throw with the distance and velocity necessary for outfield positions. Next season, I expect that my arm will be ready for throws to the plate."
In addition to being an exceptional softball player, Kinley was outstanding in the classroom. She garnered ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District recognition three times. To qualify for this award, the student-athlete must be a sophomore, have at least a 3.30 GPA and either be a starter or key reserve player. Kinley was a first team selection in 2007 and 2008 and a second team choice in 2009. She majored in film and would someday love to make wildlife documentaries. However, in the future she plans to attend graduate school and get her master's in social work.
Following graduation, Kinley has decided to take her softball game to a professional level. She currently plays for the Philadelphia Force in the National Pro Fastpitch league. She is currently tied for 13th in the league in RBI and has belted a home run. Although Philadelphia is having a difficult season, Kinley has enjoyed her time in the pros.
"The Force has been an amazing experience so far," she says. "We had two weeks of spring training which was pretty intense and we had our first five-game series in Chicago against the Bandits, which was a great experience."
Although playing as a professional is a great experience, Kinley will remember her time at Penn State the most. She is thankful for all the support her family has given her to having an excellent career.
"My parents have been my most inspirational forces throughout my career," she says. "They have been the support that got me where I am, yet they never pushed me because they emphasized the importance of softball always remaining fun."