RAYANA PETRONE & ALEXANDRA WHITE
Eryn Sheeley improves team development
When thinking of spring athletes on campus, pitcher Eryn Sheeley is one to be remembered. Sheeley, from North Haven, CT, has been a transformative pitcher for the university’s softball team.
In her junior season, Sheeley holds the school record for the most career and single-season strikeouts, while also being named the pitcher of the week for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference earlier this season.
While Sheeley is proud of her accomplishments, she also prides herself on her ability to lead and support her teammates. To Sheeley, believing in your team is what leads to player success. “The biggest thing for player development that we've had to learn as a team is that it's not just about you, it's about multiple people,” Sheeley said. “I'm playing for not just myself, or the name on the front of my jersey, or my family, or anyone else. I'm playing for the 15 other girls that stand beside me.”
Part of improving team development comes from Sheeley fostering relationships with the team’s younger pitchers, sophomore Meghan Theall, and first-year Abigail Fortin. “They are like my little sisters, I adore them till no end,” Sheeley said. “That's what's kind of leading to our success, knowing that we have each other's backs.”
“Eryn has a very nurturing personality and takes girls under her wing, especially me and Abby,” Theall said. Now in her second year, Theall credits Sheeley for helping her gain her sense of confidence on the mound throughout her first year, “I think that’s why she’s so successful, not only because of her skill but because of her confidence.”
Fortin echoed this, sharing that even in the short amount of time she has known Sheeley, she has helped her remain calm on the bump. “I know she’s always there for me, supporting me through every pitch,” Fortin said.
A strong relationship with her teammates creates a supportive environment to grow together. “I always want to tell girls is that like, you may have a moment where you're at a really high of a high, and there's going to be a moment where you're at a really low of a low, but if you have your team beside you, that's what matters because they're going to help you get through those ups and downs,” Sheeley said.
Sheeley credits Coach Sarah Woodside for becoming a better leader. “Her constant support is kind of like a mother figure. She's like a mom that we can go to, and she's gonna give us that tough love,” Sheeley said. “Having her there and having her say, everything's gonna be okay, and kind of get on us a little bit when things don't always go right is what also drives us to success.”
To Sheeley, the most important factor in player development is being a supportive teammate and leader. “I love the sport, and I would do anything for the sport, but I think the people is what makes me want to continue to play even more than my four years. Yes, it's about your skill, but it's also about your relationships,” Sheeley said. “That's the biggest thing I've taken out of playing since the age of eight is that you can have best friends that come out of a sport.”