TAMPA, Fla. – It’s all about love and softball for All-American USF senior Lee Ann Spivey.
Already one of its all-time best players, the recently engaged catcher is on pace to set school records in both home runs and runs batted in.
Spivey said her love for the game, and for her teammates, means more to her than making the USF all-time lists.
“When you start playing for records and stats, you start looking at more of the selfish side of the game, and you’re not playing for your teammates,” Spivey said Tuesday before practice at the USF Softball Stadium.
“In sports you have to be selfless because it’s a team thing as opposed to being individual. … You just need to be clear-headed, calm, and collected, and let (the record) take care of itself.”
Coach Ken Eriksen, whom she met in the eighth grade at the university’s softball camp, has been a significant part of Spivey’s development. Her high school coach, Ed Beckett, feels coming to work with Eriksen was the best decision for her.
“I really love Ken Eriksen as a coach. I think he was the perfect man for Lee Ann, and she’s really blossomed under his coaching at USF,” Beckett said last Wednesday from Flagler Palm High School in Palm Coast, Fla.
Wise beyond her 21 years, Spivey credits coach Eriksen with teaching her many of life’s lessons.
“To work with Ken Eriksen has been an honour. He’s an extremely smart man, and he knows so much about the game, he knows so much about school, he knows so much about life in general,” she said.
“I feel like I’ve been playing for him for eight years. At this point I feel like he’s another one of my family.”
So much so that when her fiancé, Nick, decided to propose, he didn’t only ask her parents for her hand in marriage, he also asked coach Erikson.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before,” Eriksen said. “ ‘Hey, can I marry your catcher?’ … I said, ‘Nick, you don’t have to ask me. You’re a heck of a guy, so if it’s up to me, ya, ’cause you’re getting a great gal.’ ”
Already accustomed to juggling school and athletics, Spivey, upon graduating this year, plans to pursue a pro team or Team USA, while earning her MBA.
“Balancing two as always. I’m just going to play for as long as I can,” she said. “From all the people that I’ve talked to that have finished their careers, they always say if you still love it, keep playing it while you can, ’cause it’s the one thing you can’t go back to.”