Traveling to the other side of the globe to pursue an education is no easy feat, but New Zealander Lara Andrews was determined to play softball while going to college and found a home at the University of Delaware.
Andrews has always had a love of the sport and has played competitively for years. She has been on the New Zealand national team since age 15, traveling to 11 different countries.
“People always ask me why I came to college in the U.S. I tell them that this country has a unique organization where students are able to go to school and play a sport,” Andrews said. “This is not common in universities worldwide, so the opportunity to excel in academics whilst excelling in softball is a dream come true.”
Andrews, who graduated from the University in 2013 and is pursuing a master’s degree in human development and family studies, was recruited by UD’s softball coach Jaime Wohlbach in 2010.
“I had spent one year at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi and was thrilled to be able to transfer to UD for my remaining three years,” said Andrews. “My goal when I left New Zealand was to play Division I softball at a good academic school, and when I was asked to look at UD, not only did it fit my criteria, it was one of the most beautiful campuses I had ever seen.”
In addition to being a full-time graduate student, Andrews has just signed a two-year contract with the Pennsylvania Rebellion, a new team in the National Professional Fastpitch League (NPF). She is the first UD graduate to receive a contract with the NPF.
“I’m extremely fortunate to be able to play locally and still continue my studies at the University of Delaware. I really enjoy my major. I love human interactions and relationships, and learning about families and how they function,” said Andrews, explaining that her degree will give her the opportunity to help people in many different ways.
Andrews is no stranger to balancing a busy schedule. Serving as team captain for three years, she started every UD varsity softball game while maintaining a high enough grade point average to be placed on the Dean’s List and also serving as a Blue Hen Ambassador.
Developing good time management skills will come in handy this summer. Andrews is a volunteer softball coach at UD, and is a graduate assistant for the First Year Seminar.
The Pennsylvania Rebellion’s home opener is June 5, then in August she will be playing for New Zealand at the International Softball Federation’s world championships in the Netherlands.
Ultimately, she hopes to play for New Zealand at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“It’s a giant step for someone coming from such a small place like New Zealand to sign with a professional team,” she said. “It’s an awesome feeling to be able to play softball with the best players in the world.”
To follow Andrews’ softball career, visit her Facebook page.
Article by Elizabeth Penczak
This article appeared on UDaily on 5/16/2014.