Injured seniors find other ways to provide leadership

Nick Bratcher

The Lady Toppers didn’t expect to lose two of their three seniors to injury this season, but what they gained was even more unexpected.

After senior Elizabeth Ferrell broke her arm in batting practice on March 14 and senior Sara Williams re-injured her back on July 5 of last year, they knew their final seasons would be a bit different than anticipated.

“It’s hard because nothing happened like I thought it was going to,” Williams said. “You spend the four years dreaming about how your senior year is going to be. Clearly, I didn’t reach that.”

But that hasn’t stopped the duo from playing a role this season.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said the duo has provided an unexpected extension to the coaching staff.

“They’re almost on-the-field coaches,” she said. “They’re our eyes and ears. They have the freedom to say whatever they need to say to the young players out there and even the older ones.”

Ferrell said she grew as a person through her experience.

“I’ve definitely had to be more vocal,” she said. “That was a problem I had with my leadership skills because the team wanted me to be more vocal. It definitely benefited me life skill-wise. I don’t like to talk a lot. I like to be more of an example person.

“I don’t like to yell at people or get on my teammates, but I’ve had to do that more now.”

The circumstance has had a similar effect on Williams.

She said the adversity has made her stronger in her faith.

“That’s just how life is going to be,” she said. “Things are going to get thrown at you, but there’s always a bigger picture. I’ve relied on God, and He’s shown me that there’s a lot more to life than hurting my back and not playing this year.

“My senior year is ending like this for a reason.”

The experience has not been all gain, though. Senior Brittany Perry said not having her fellow seniors has been very tough on her.

“We talked all summer,” she said. “We talked about being the best leaders we could be and leading this team to a championship — not just cheering them on, but physically, too. We wanted to play the best we could out of our four years here.”

Tyra Perry said the loss of the two seniors has decreased the already small amount of leadership the Lady Toppers had coming into the season.

“I think we lost a sense of stability,” she said. “The three seniors had a strong camaraderie, and they were providing leadership. Now that they’re injured, it’s difficult to provide the same levels of leadership.”

Ferrell said she has done her best to fill the leadership void.

“I realized I needed to step up more as a vocal leader,” she said. “I’m still older. I still have experience, and I can still share my experiences with the younger players so that they can still draw from my experience to play well in the field.”

Williams said she’s doing her best to pass down her wisdom as well.

“I don’t want anybody’s college career to end like mine has,” she said. “I want to leave something. If I can’t leave it through the records like I was hoping, I want to leave it somehow, even if it’s just through my words.”