Senior outfielder Vera Pflugradt is taking in her last moments wearing the purple uniform as a Warhawk. Pflugradt has been playing for Whitewater ever since her freshman year and has enjoyed every moment along the journey to graduating very soon. Through the difficulties of Covid and everywhere in between, the senior outfielder has stuck with this program and loves it. It will be an emotional goodbye for her soon.
So you are now a senior here at UW-Whitewater, what has the journey entailed for you from coming here to play softball as a freshman to now being a senior starter playing extremely well?
When I was first looking at colleges I was struggling a little bit and getting frustrated because nothing was really standing out to me. I didn’t feel like I really belonged anywhere until I found Whitewater. Head coach Brenda Volk was interested so I was nervous coming in but I really bought into the program and tried to give it my all. I worked really hard during the offseason to try to improve my game and what I was struggling with. Also as a freshman I really had great upperclassmen role models who really showed me what being a Warhawk is all about. I was able to learn from them and take those leadership skills and apply it. So I think that has helped a lot this year especially with a lot of new faces.
What are some of your favorite memories you have experienced throughout the years playing softball here?
Every memory is great. Coming to practice everyday I looked forward to that, as well as games are always fun. Being with my teammates as well and making those connections. Also, my freshman and sophomore year we were able to go to Florida, unfortunately the last two years we haven’t been able to. But those are some of my favorite memories because we were able to live in houses with teammates for the whole week. I was able to build strong connections and relationships through the Florida trip.
What are the goals for the rest of the season for both you personally and as a team?
This being my last season playing softball competitively, my goals personally have been to have fun and just give it my all. I think that’s exactly what we have all been doing. Our goal as a team is to have fun because nothing is guaranteed.
What makes this team a force to be reckoned with the rest of the way compared to other teams competing for the same things you guys are competing for?
We do have a few newcomers starting on the field, to others that might look like a weakness but they have done a great job as freshman working hard and picking up on the little things. They really have this eagerness behind their play style and I love that. We also have a lot of depth in our lineup, as I have confidence in everyone to get those winning hits and RBIs. So other teams lack that ability to have depth late in their lineups, which should definitely show in conference play.
What are your future endeavors following graduating and playing softball?
I still will look into joining some slow pitch team eventually. I am a physical education major here so I plan on hopefully being a P.E. and health teacher. I really would love to coach the game of softball at the high school level if possible.
What are some of the biggest takeaways you have learned from playing here and going to school over the last few years?
Just being a college athlete is a little difficult, just adjusting to that life. But our assistant coach, Beth Bonuso, implements this mental training into our program. So we have classroom sessions every week and we work on confidence, positive self talk and good body language. That has really helped me not only become a better player but person off the field. As well as helping me figure out who I am and what my goals are.
What would you say as advice for student athletes possibly deciding to play softball here, why is it such a great and unique place to play and receive a great education?
I mean I absolutely love it here at Whitewater and this program is truly something special. We have that family aspect to our team and our program. Everybody who is here, truly wants to be here and it shows. Advice for freshman coming in is to really buy into the program and to give it your all by working hard. You only have four years and you don’t want to throw that away.
Pflugradt will be a key player the rest of the way for Warhawk softball this season. Next up for the team is a double header at UW-Stevens Point on Monday April 12th at 2:00 p.m.