One of the most accomplished athletic resumes in the land belongs to Roosevelt head softball coach Amanda Scott. As a collegian at Fresno State University, Scott was a four-time All-American and led the Bulldogs to the 1998 NCAA title. In addition to winning the Women’s College World Series MVP that year, she was later named to the NCAA Division I Softball 25th Anniversary Team, one of a bevy of awards achieved during her time as a superior student-athlete.
To no one’s surprise, Scott also enjoyed a successful international and professional playing career. She won a National Pro Fastpitch title and World Series MVP award in 2004, and she represented the United States in various international tournaments, serving as an alternate on the U.S. squad that won gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
After her playing career concluded, Scott pursued a career in coaching. In addition to her role as a player/coach for the New York/New Jersey Juggernaut, a professional team, she was at NCAA Division I schools Michigan State, Iowa and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Scott’s ambitious drive to conquer challenges at every turn eventually led her to her current position at Roosevelt, where she had one of the grandest tests a first-time head coach could face: starting a team completely from scratch.
“I remember initially just hoping to be able to recruit an entire team,” Scott, a California native who has called Chicago home for the last eight years, recalled of her first days on the job at Roosevelt in the fall of 2011. “Once that challenge was met, I looked to simply create an environment where each student-athlete could grow and thrive.”
Before she could create that culture, Scott had to find student-athletes who were willing to take a leap and attend Roosevelt, a University that never had a softball program prior to their arrival.
That chance to be a part of startup in softball under the tutelage of an all-time great exhilarated Morgan Vogt, now a senior standout as the Lakers’ ace pitcher and one of the team’s top hitters.
“I was so excited to be in a new program and set goals and standards for the next teams to come,” said Vogt, a Plainfield native who is a three-time All-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference pick and all-region honoree. “I love playing for Amanda. She’s the main reason I chose this program. She treats us as equals and never talks down to us. She inspires us and makes us want to be better.”
“I looked to simply create an environment where each student-athlete could grow and thrive.”
Coach Amanda Scott
With almost every distinction imaginable in the sport to her credit, one might assume that Scott is all softball, all the time. Not so, as the culture she has espoused revolves around competitiveness on the diamond balanced with responsibility to academics and being good, productive people who can communicate and take pride in their work, no matter the realm.
“My main goal in coming to Roosevelt was to really grow more as a person and a player,” said Amanda Ferguson, a senior second baseman from Colorado whose All-CCAC hitting was eclipsed only by classroom success that led to her being named Roosevelt’s first-ever Academic All-American. “Amanda teaches us how to be the best softball players and human beings we can be.”
Scott said she emphasizes academics first and foremost, with additional focus on the overall concept of team and supporting each other not just on the field but throughout the student-athletes’ lives.
“College is an important time where you are constantly evolving as humans,” said Scott. “We work to connect with all student-athletes to make sure they are getting the support they need individually, whether that be socially, academically or athletically.”
“The thing I like about Amanda’s approach is she connects the game to our own personal life,” said Kristy Santora, a senior from Wheaton who has adapted from playing the outfield to catching behind the plate and has garnered all-region honors for her proficient offensive tear last spring. “The things I have learned from her about the game are things I can carry over into my everyday life.”
Connecting lessons of softball to life’s trials and tribulations is important, as most athletes on the NAIA level will not pursue the post-collegiate playing opportunities earned by Scott. If the Lakers’ on-field performance is any indication of future life approaches, this group will be a hit.
That’s because Roosevelt has been one of the top offensive teams in the CCAC since the program’s debut. While some would call their 2013 season beginner’s luck, the Lakers’ prowess at the plate has continued the last two years to frighten opposing pitchers.
“I talk to our hitters from a pitching perspective,” said Scott, a nearly-unhittable hurler during her playing career. “I see the swing and evaluate how I would get them out as a pitcher and then go from there. We keep things simple and we don’t try to change swings. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what it looks like or feels like so long as you get it done.”
The 2016 season will be the swan song for Scott’s first recruiting class, and the Lakers want to send their 11 seniors out on a high note with a first-ever CCAC tournament berth.
“We have a clear understanding of what it is we need to do to win and be successful,” said Katie Neubauer, a Batavia-bred senior pitcher, infielder and potent weapon at the plate. “For many of us, this is our last season we have to play the sport we love, so I hope we can continue to compete and carry out the season as long as possible.”
It may be the last go-around for this crop of Lakers, but the lessons they have culled from one of the game’s best will help them go after all of life’s challenges like a fastball that caught too much of home plate.
2015-16 Seasons in Full Swing
Swinging is a specialty of sophomore Matthew Spahr of the men’s golf team and freshman Emily Zalewski of the women’s tennis team. All of Roosevelt’s athletic squads will be swinging for the fences and aiming for success in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Sophomore attacker Brooke Lee has stepped up for the Roosevelt volleyball team’s offense. Senior guard Becky Williford is the on-court catalyst for Roosevelt women’s basketball with new head coach Keisha Newell calling the shots from the sideline.
The Lakers’ cross country and track and field program is taking big strides forward under new coach and Roosevelt alum Aaron King, while the Roosevelt men’s soccer team notched early road wins over top-25 foes this fall thanks in large part to the wizardry of All-CCAC midfielder Jose Garcia.