Softball talent earns a full ride

Christine Dewitt: Player heads to South Carolina to join Winthrop Eagles.

Skill set: Christine Dewitt pitches a game for the Okanagan Angels during a recent tournament at Finlayson Park.

Skill set: Christine Dewitt pitches a game for the Okanagan Angels during a recent tournament at Finlayson Park.

Just because you are from a small town, doesn’t mean you can’t dream big, and nobody knows this better than Christine Dewitt.

The 17-year-old Sicamous talent and Salmon Arm Secondary grad has recently received a four-year $80,000 athletic scholarship to play NCAA Division I softball at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

“It was unreal. I didn’t know what to think or what to say… it was surreal to me because it never happens to people here…” said Dewitt.

Dewitt, who was recruited by two other U.S. schools, has been signed to play a variety of positions with the Winthrop Eagles including back catcher, third base and outfield.

“The fact that it’s a Division I school was definitely appealing because I want to play against the best that I possibly can… how are you going to know you are good unless you play against the best?” she asked. “They take it so seriously down there and that’s what I’m really excited for is how much they put into it.”

In June, Mark Cooke, head coach for the Eagles softball team, travelled to Sicamous to see Dewitt play with the Kelowna Heat at the 12th Annual Twin Anchors Ladies Open Fastball Tournament.

For Dewitt, the fact Cooke travelled to her hometown where she started playing ball was “the cherry on the cake.”

“You are nervous because you know he is there and you just want to do well… I knew I wouldn’t play as well as I could, but he said he had already heard my athletic ability was great, I would fill the position he needed me to, and that he came down more to see my personality than my actual skill.”

It was after the tournament that Cooke presented Dewitt with the offer she couldn’t resist.

“I talked to my parents and we were all pretty gung-ho about it because it’s such a great offer, opportunity and place – it was a pretty easy decision,” she laughed, adding that her family has allowed her to reach this huge accomplishment.

She credits her dad Chris, who has always had the time to play catch, her mother, Melanie, who has driven her to every game, her supportive brother, Court, her Uncle Jake, who has coached her since she was young and her sister Bianca, who she says has been a huge part of her development. Saying goodbye to her family to attend school in the U.S. is going to be the “biggest challenge,” she said.

“I would like to say it will be a piece of cake, but I am super close with my family… I am going to miss them for sure.”

Dewitt leaves for Winthrop University in mid-August, where along with playing softball, she will pursue a degree in biology.

As for what lies ahead for Dewitt after Winthrop, well she continues to keep dreaming big.

“The next level would be to play on the national team and that would be a dream come true. I would want nothing more than that… but if that doesn’t work out I will have my degree in biology and I can really take that wherever I want to go.”

2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International ChampionshipDewitt and the Kelowna Heat will be at the 2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship in Surrey over the next couple weeks, competing in the Futures (under-19) division at Softball City and Cloverdale Athletic Park, from July 9-17.  (For more information, see PeaceArchNews.com and canadianopenfastpitch.com)

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