Christine Lynam and Brooke Nelson of Batavia recently wrapped up very successful softball careers at Waubonsee Community College, but they’re nowhere near ready to give up the sport they’ve been playing since they were little.
Lynam, who started playing T-ball at the age of 3, isn’t sure where or if she will be playing softball next season, but she is sure she wants to stay connected with the sport as a coach. She’s helped coach the Wasco Diamonds 18U team for the past two years.
“I just want to continue coaching,” she said. “Everyone comes up to me and says, ‘You should be a coach.’ ”
Lynam may continue her playing career next year at Youngstown State, North Central or Lake Forest, but she’s also looking at attending Northern Illinois to study business and pre-law with an eye toward eventually coaching at the collegiate level. She says the question of whether she would play softball if she chooses to attend Northern is still “up in the air.”
If Lynam chooses to play at North Central, she will again be a teammate of Nelson.
Nelson, who also wants to go into coaching, said she looked at Wisconsin-Whitewater and Elmhurst before deciding on North Central.
“Their education program is really good,” she said. “That’s kind of what drew me to them. And their softball program was a plus.”
The Cardinals (35-12) finished their season at the Wisconsin-Whitewater Regional as part of the NCAA Division III national tournament.
Nelson plans to major in physical education and minor in coaching.
“I have always helped out [coaching] with Batavia,” she said. “It’s kind of like giving back. The sport’s given me so much.”
Nelson said she started playing softball when she was 6 or 7. After a successful career at Batavia, she decided to enroll at Waubonsee while she decided on a future career path.
“Waubonsee was a good way for me to get playing time and improve my skills while figuring out what I wanted to do, academic-wise,” she said.
As a freshman, the versatile Nelson was named the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Player of the Year. A pitcher and infielder, she won 15 games on the rubber while posting an impressive 1.82 ERA. She hit .446 and drove in 47 runs to help the Chiefs win the conference title.
“I had a really great season my freshman year, so trying to follow up on that was difficult,” Nelson admits.
This season, the right-hander was 10-9 pitching with a 3.94 ERA. She batted .375 with 22 RBIs.
While she thought she played just “all right” individually, Nelson thought the team played very well, winning the league title for the third straight season.
“That’s really difficult to do in our conference because we have such great competition,” Nelson said.
The Chiefs also reached the final four of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Regional tournament, a feat Nelson said they were not able to accomplish last year because of injuries.
“This year we were able to do it and that made our season even better,” she said.
Overall, Nelson is very satisfied with her two years at Waubonsee.
“I’ve loved it,” she says. “I’ve met a lot of great players. Coach [Perry Clark] has done a lot for me. … It’s been a good experience.”
Lynam also is happy she chose Waubonsee.
“It was a great choice,” she says. “I’m a very family-oriented person, so Waubonsee seemed like the right fit for me at the right time.”
Lynam didn’t make the decision to become a Chief until after graduating from Batavia.
“I was really late in the college search,” she says. “My senior year, my coach for the Wasco Diamonds had Perry Clark out to one of our games. … He called me right after the game and asked if I wanted to come visit.”
Lynam’s freshman year at Waubonsee ended inauspiciously with a torn labrum and rotator cuff in her right shoulder that required surgery on her throwing arm at the end of the season.
“It was a lot of rehab,” she says. “I didn’t play all fall. … I really didn’t know if I was going to play in the spring.”
Lynam still wasn’t sure if she would be able to play as she left with the team for a season-opening trip to Florida in March.
“The first game I hit a home run and played third and did really well,” she recalls. “I started and played every game. … I did better than I expected I would do.”
Lynam hit .421 this year with seven homers and 25 RBIs. Her astounding .813 slugging percentage ranked 25th in the nation. As for the throwing arm – no worries. She didn’t make an error the entire season.
Her play drew plenty of post-season accolades, including a first-team all-conference selection and the all-region MVP award.
“I’m more than happy,” Lynam said of her decision to begin her college career at Waubonsee. “I met a lot of great new friends. I had an amazing two years. … Now I’m waiting for the second chapter.”
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes a weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest a column idea on area athletes who are competing in college, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.