MINFORD — Not so long ago, Andi Blevins wasn’t physically able to play the game she loves.
Blevins, an incoming junior catcher at Minford who’s built her reputation off resiliency, started experiencing a massive amount of abdominal pain just before the start of her high school career.
Being the fighter that she is, Blevins attempted to stay on the diamond for much of her freshman year. But eventually, the pain was too much to bare and Blevins was forced outside the lines.
“In August of 2017, I began getting extremely sick. It affected me physically to the point of sitting out a summer and only playing half of my freshman year,” Blevins said. “In November of 2018, I had my Gallbladder removed after over a year of going to doctor’s appointments.”
That’s how Andi Blevins’ varsity softball career began. If you’ve followed her since, you already know that she’s worked her tail off into becoming an all-conference and all-district backstop.
This past spring, Blevins aided her Falcons to an overall mark of 17-9 and a Division III sectional championship. This summer, she’s played in multiple All-Star games, has represented Minford in a way that would make any community member proud, and has sported an ear-to-ear smile while doing so.
But more importantly, she’s taken what could’ve been a life-altering pain head on, stared it in the eyes and refused to let it derail a promising career.
“I called my sophomore season ‘comeback season’ because I knew coming back from anything severe is difficult,” Blevins said. “My motivation is God. I’m just so happy I get to happily play my sport again and not be in pain. It’s a true blessing to me.”
Blevins says her love for softball began before she was old enough to play t-ball. As a youngster, she’d play catch with her dad and older sister. Since, it’s the only sport that’s stuck.
She’s a self-admitted perfectionist and she holds herself to a rigid standard. But just like her swing or her throw to second, she’s working on that aspect of her game as well.
“Mindset is a huge part of any sport or activity. You have to be physically fit before you can do anything above average. My most improved trait is definitely my attitude towards myself and others,” Blevins said. “I positively give myself feedback instead of criticizing every mistake I make. I accepted that mistakes happen and that’s very important in my game.”
There’s a reason that Blevins works tirelessly at improving the little things, such as her mindset.
She’s set high goals for herself but she also understands that what she gets from achieving her goals isn’t as important as what she’s becoming by working to achieve those same goals.
“My goal is to play for Ohio State’s softball team,” she said. “I hope to accomplish that while spreading not only the love for the game but also showing others that, if you want to, you can improve and get to where you want to be, despite your setbacks.”
Softball has already taught Blevins life lessons. But it’s also brought her friendships that she’ll never forget or undervalue. Her relationship with teammate Kiersten Hale fits that description.
“My favorite softball moment is a series of moments that will continue into this next season,” Blevins said. “Before every game, I get a talk from Kiersten. The bond we have made is one I will always remember. ‘Hale talks’ is what we’ve started calling them. She talks positivity and hypes me up before every game.”
When next spring comes along, Blevins will be a junior and an unquestioned team leader. Her abilities on the field, her mindset and yes, that continued resiliency, make her the perfect role model for any of her teammates.
“This next season, my expectations are big. I want to see our hitting click on all cylinders and our bond to be unbreakable,” she said. “I hope to improve on my catching abilities and I want to solidify myself while being the best I can for my team. No matter where I am on the field, I want my teammates to know they can count on me.”
Reach Derrick Webb at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @dw1509.