Voice: Meghan Bendik

Senior Meghan Bendik, who has played softball her entire life, has committed to playing for Cottey College for the Fall of 2021. She describes her experience in softball and her aspirations for the future.

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Jake Dietlin and Daniel Lubliner

Senior Meghan Bendik has played softball since childhood. She recalls what initially attracted her to the sport and discusses the role it plays in her life.

“My dad is a huge baseball fan; he grew up in San Francisco, so he’s obviously a really big Giants fan. As soon as I was born, my dad was dressing me in Giant’s gear, and I was holding a baseball all the time. When I began to walk, he taught me how to play catch, so it’s brought me close to my dad, and I’ve just been playing almost all my life and it’s something that I am so used to. It’s like having another family with the team as well, so I think softball is something that has brought me close to a lot of people that I love today,” said Bendik.

During her sophomore year of high school, Bendik experienced a change in her trajectory in the sport, but she eventually found a way through with the help of her mentors and friends and regained her love for the sport. 

“I had a few run-ins with the coaches and it wasn’t a very positive experience for me; if anything, it kind of turned me away from the sport for a couple years as I was trying to find a team that was like a family. When playing softball, and team sports in general, the team should feel like a family and I just didn’t really have that family relationship with the high school team and coaches. I just did not love how the team was run as a whole. In the end, I did find a travel ball team, Sonoma Stack, and that’s how I found my love for softball again. My current travel ball coach, Mike Flynn, is like another father figure to me, because he took me in when I was in a mindset where I did not know whether I wanted to keep playing softball. He taught me to embrace my mistakes and not be afraid to make them; he boosted my confidence and gave me that family feeling again,” said Bendik.

Bendik describes memories she has created with her team.

“A lot of fun memories with my Sonoma Stack team have been flying around the country, staying in hotels, and seeing different places. I’d say my favorite memory is definitely the Las Vegas tournaments in the fall, because there are so many teams and so many college coaches. We stay in different hotels on the strip and it’s always a lot of fun,” said Bendik.

Bendik describes how her competitions have been affected and what practicing looks like amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, in this past year, we haven’t really played anywhere due to COVID-19. As for practice, we do practice once a week on Sundays. It’s different because we can’t hang out after practice and we have to follow the protocols, including wearing masks on and off the field, spacing our gear six feet apart, and using hand sanitizer when coming on and off the field. Besides that, I do practice at home: I’ll do hitting drills and play catch here and there, but not being able to play and practice like I used to has definitely taken a toll on my skill and overall strength,” said Bendik.

Bendik has used this excess time in the off-season to finalize her decision in committing to Cottey College, an all-girls college in Nevada, Missouri. Bendik expresses her excitement towards attending Cottey College in the Fall.

“I’m looking forward to it, because when I went and visited, it reminded me of Petaluma in a way the town is set up and the way the people are, even though it is basically across the country. I’m looking forward to having a second home there,” said Bendik.

Bendik recounts her visit in 2019.

“I met a couple of girls who are older than me when I visited back in 2019. I have also connected with some of the girls who are my age on social media who will be going with me next fall. It’s interesting, because a lot of these girls are from the Missouri and Midwest areas; being from California, the experience has definitely opened my eyes as we live very differently than them. That’s another thing that I am really looking forward to: a different lifestyle,” said Bendik.

Bendik pictures what her training will look like in her future years at Cottey as a student-athlete.

“There are two seasons: the Fall and the Spring. During the Fall, there will be a lot more conditioning, morning workouts, and I’ll have school on top of that, but I’ll have the weekends off because I won’t be playing games. Come Spring, I’ll probably do less workouts―still practicing, but then the games will start ramping up,” said Bendik.

Although Bendik has played other sports, softball will forever occupy a special place in her heart. “Softball has always been my number one sport,” said Bendik. Though she briefly felt disillusioned with the sport following her experiences with the Casa team, she ultimately salvaged her passion for the sport when she joined the Sonoma Stack club team. Through this progression, Bendik realized just how vital a strong bond with her teammates and coaches is to her enjoyment of softball. Throughout her life, Bendik has built friendships, created memories, and found joy through softball. Next fall, she plans to step up to the plate at Cottey College, furthering her academic interests as well as her love for softball.