MINFORD — For Minford’s Andrea Blevins, physically playing softball has been more like running an obstacle course.
But what had to feel good and satisfying for Blevins, on Monday at Minford High School, was her officially putting pen to paper —and announcing her intention to play college softball for the University of Rio Grande.
Blevins, the Falcons’ catcher who had her gall bladder removed four years ago along with a carpel tunnel release and ulnar decompression in October of 2020, became the latest signee for head coach Chris Hammond and the NAIA’s RedStorm —joining the likes of former Minford standout Zoe Doll and Oak Hill star shortstop Caitlyn Brisker.
Blevins was flanked at her signing ceremony by her parents, Jason and Jessica Blevins; Minford High School head softball coach Art Doll and Minford High School assistant softball coach Brittyn Saunders.
She said playing the sport she loves, and playing pain free, is “honestly a blessing” —but now even more so to have that opportunity at the next level.
“It has completely changed my perspective on life entirely. I am so thankful every time I get to play without pain, without wondering if I would have to stop because my abdomen or arm hurt so bad I couldn’t hardly move,” said Blevins. “It’s really helped me appreciate the little things, and work even harder to bounce back to where I was and beyond.”
Where Blevins was as a sophomore was an all-Southern Ohio Conference Division II and all-Southeast District Division III Honorable Mention catcher.
She said Hammond recruited her as a catcher, and also as an overall utility player —playing in the outfield “or wherever I’m needed at that time”.
Blevins said from her initial visit to Rio Grande, which she went on “directly for softball”, she “immediately loved the campus”.
“The campus was smaller, with a lot of land near that made it feel like home. I also became very fond of Coach (Chris) Hammond from the first time we met at a softball tournament,” she said. “There were a few other places that contacted me, but my major was either not attainable there or the connection I felt with Rio just wasn’t as strong with other schools. I am so excited for the opportunity to play at Rio. I was able to practice with the team in the fall, and it was such a family feel. They acted as if I had been there all along.”
She said she plans to double major in Communication Sciences & Disorders and Deaf Education — another reason why Rio Grande was so viable.
”With this specific program at Rio, I will attain a certificate in visual and hearing impairment, so my minor will likely turn to business. Or continue it in the education route,” said Blevins. “The double major and minor is still in discussion, but the first major is a definite as of now.”
Indeed, her education goals appear set, as well as her motivation for her senior season —following the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s decision to cancel the 2020 campaign, caused by the coronavirus threat.
“Not having a season last year was devastating. Our team was clicking. We had worked so hard. I remember the day we found out. Coach Doll stopped practice and we all went for ice cream and talked about the previous season and what would have been a wonderful season (in 2020). It was a good smack in the face. But those months off put the pressure on myself more to get in the gym and put the work in. I didn’t have the practices every day to rely on until summer ball and personal workouts,” said Blevins. “I had to get motivated at home, right then.”
Blevins’ physical strength and health have improved, as she said her mental approach is improving as well.
“My goals for my last year at Minford are to continue to grow just as much mentally as I am physically. Mental strength is a big aspect in not only sports, but life and relationships in general,” she said. “Coach Doll’s focus of last season was being ‘headstrong’, and that has stuck with me.”
She is also glad that her college commitment process is officially complete, where she can now focus on her senior season — pain free.
I am very relieved. On my visit with Coach Hammond, he asked when I would like to be committed and I told him hopefully not long after the first of the year, so I can enjoy the rest of my senior year being, well, just a senior,” said Blevins. “I am also so excited because I have dreamed of playing in college since I started playing, and after the high school experience of two surgeries and a cancelled season due to COVID-19, I’m so blessed to have the opportunity.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved