Academics before athletics for USF’s Bryant

The left fielder steps up to the plate when it comes to her education

Hallie Bryant posing next to the USF sign at the team's facility
TAMPA, Fla. - Left fielder Hallie Bryant works hard on and off the field to find success at USF (Sam Oziel/Toronto Observer) 

TAMPA, Fla. – The University of South Florida women’s softball team is not your typical Division I program. 

NCAA athletes have a plethora of responsibilities to contend with during their seasons. For the players on the USF Bulls, staying on top of their academics is of the utmost importance. 

Left fielder Hallie Bryant is a perfect example of what it means to be a student-athlete, getting named to the 2020-21 AAC All-Academic Team as a freshman. 

“It’s not just coming in and playing (at USF),” said Bryant, before batting practice. “There’s a big part of academics with us, too. Coach Eriksen’s big thing is that we’re here for school before softball.” 

Entering the season as a redshirt sophomore, the Trenton, Florida native is currently majoring in Health Sciences while pursuing a minor in Psychology. 

Through 30 games this season, Bryant has slashed .257 batting/.294 on-base/.351 on-base plus slugging, while making the transition from centre field. The converted left-fielder made a highlight reel catch against Penn State earlier this month, diving into foul territory to make the out. 

The clip went viral and was even ranked fourth on SportsCenter’s Top Ten.

Head Coach Ken Eriksen is a former USF student-athlete himself, earning a spot on the school’s honour roll during his time on the baseball team. The three-time AAC coach of the year has been diligent in centring his players’ athletic commitments around their class schedules as much as he can since taking the job in 1997.

Head Coach Ken Eriksen throwing batting practice to Hallie Bryant in the cages at the team complex (Sam Oziel/Toronto Observer)

“You’re going to have that degree for the rest of your life, softball in college is only four or five years,” said Eriksen, in a dugout scrum. “The impact that has on you future-wise is a big deal.

“I’m going to help you on the ball field, but the partnership is if you don’t go to class, you don’t play. Your athletic scholarship is because you’re a student-athlete, not an athlete-student.”

The Bulls practice jersey has the word “win” emblazoned on the back, but the U.S. women’s national softball team manager is adamant that the slogan is to be applied to every aspect of his players’ responsibilities. 

“(They) have to win in the classroom, win the way you treat people, win the way you talk to people.” 

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Posted: Mar 22 2023 8:43 pm
Filed under: NCAA Softball Sports