Barry University Student Athlete
My name is Grace Slone Collins and I am a softball player at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL. I am currently a junior, double majoring in philosophy and history in the steps towards law school. At Barry, I have not only been able to play collegiate softball, but I also have the opportunity to fit in other extracurricular activities that will prepare me for my future. For the past two years, I have been a member of the Barry University Ethics Bowl team, in which my team and I prepare philosophical and ethical arguments and debate with other collegiate teams from across the nation. This past fall, we came in 5th in the Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl competition, and earned a spot in the National Ethics Bowl competition hosted in Cincinnati, OH in March.
Due to softball season in the spring, I thought that there would be no way for me to join my ethics team at the national competition. Our softball schedule for the week of Ethics Bowl Nationals was planned to be a fully-packed spring break of traveling. This included two doubleheaders in Winter Park, FL, a doubleheader at Barry, our first conference series of the season at Florida Tech, and ending the week with three double-headers in North Georgia. We were scheduled to play eight out of ten days, with a day off in the middle as a travel day to Georgia in the bus. I looked at my schedule, and knew that my hopes to go to the National Ethics Bowl Competition were impossible. But all I thought about was how much I wanted to help my ethics team and make the sacrifices needed in any way possible to be there for both my softball team and my ethics team. So, I started to plan.
The National Ethics Bowl Competition was scheduled for March 3rd, which happened to be the one day off in which the softball team would be bus traveling to Georgia. I informed my softball coach, Danielle Penner, of our invitation to the National Ethics Bowl, and she was as enthusiastic about my participation as I was. Coach Penner told me to do all that I could to find flights to get to Cincinnati after our games at Florida Tech and to meet back with my softball team in North Georgia on the following day. As long as I did not miss a softball game, I could go to nationals. Here was my chance! So, I searched and searched for flights that could accommodate my particular times and locations, and eventually found exactly the flights I needed. The Barry Philosophy and Theology Department paid for my adjusted flights, along with paying for the rest of my ethics bowl team, who were flying together on a separate flight. Once I got my flights, I had to ask family members to drive me to and from the airport in Florida and Georgia, while also getting in contact with the hotel shuttle in Cincinnati.
Everything was really coming together, and all I had to do, then, was prepare my ethics cases and arguments. In the National Ethics Bowl, students are given fifteen cases that discuss current events and ask the students to make arguments based on ethical principles to how these situations should be addressed. These cases could pertain to education policies, environmental issues, alcohol and drug problems, insurance fraud, abortion, stem-cell research, animal cruelty, and many other debatable questions. Since there are only five members of the ethics team, we assign each member three cases to be in charge of leading our position. Once we have chosen our cases, each member writes a well-organized three to four-paged paper explaining ethical principles that support our position in the case, as well as taking into consideration possible objections to our viewpoint and making suggestions. Each member does research on these current events by collecting statistics, news articles, and pertinent information. Once these papers are finished and re-drafted numerous times with the help of our ethics bowl coaches and professors, we will begin practicing speeches and debates. In the Ethics bowl competition, the team is not allowed to bring any notes to the table during competition, so all of our information and arguments have to be memorized by the team. We each have to be ready to present a ten-minute speech without notes, as well as take arguments from our opponents and questions from our judges. So, between my regular school work, softball practices and games, and workouts, I met up with my ethics bowl team and ethics coaches to formalize arguments, practice debates, and give feedback on my ethics teammates’ progress. There were many times that I went in early in the morning before classes to professor’s offices to ask their opinions on my philosophical cases, sent email drafts of case write-ups in the middle of the night, and ran from the softball practice field to late night ethics bowl practice sessions in the philosophy classrooms across campus.
The week of the National Ethics bowl and the most number of softball games in succession of my season was getting closer. I made all the last minute arrangements for my trip and packed all of my luggage for the long week ahead. First, my softball team and I had two double-headers on Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26, in Winter Park, FL. Friday, we played Kentucky State and won both games 8-0 and 9-2. I started and played in right field and center field, batting second in the line-up. I ended the day hitting three for six with three stolen bases, one walk and scored one run. The next day, we played Albany State and won both games 9-1 and 14-5. Again I played in center field, batting second in the line-up, and finished the day hitting two for six with one RBI, two walks and scored four runs. The team came together both offensively and defensively to dominate our competition. Next, we drove back to Barry and played a double-header on Monday afternoon, February 28, against Mercyhurst. I played right field and remained in the two-spot, hitting three for five with two sacrifice bunts, one stolen base, and scored one run. Both of these games were hard-fought out battles, in which we had to pull together hits, move runners, and capitalize on errors to score runs and win. The following day, we were on the road to Florida Tech in Melbourne, FL. We won the game on Tuesday, March 1, 3-0 after battling the Florida Tech Panthers for ten full innings. I played right field and stayed in the two-spot, hitting 3 for 5 including my first career triple with one stolen base and scored one run. My team was confident that we could come out the next day against Florida Tech stronger and better than the day before and sweep the series. We won both games on Wednesday, 11-1 and 6-2. I played right field and in the two-spot, hitting five for eight with one double, three RBI, one stolen base, and scoring four runs.
The second game ended at Florida Tech on Wednesday at 5:20pm, and I had a plane to catch at the Melbourne Airport at 6:55pm. I quickly gathered all my luggage from the bus, said goodbye to my teammates, and left with my grandparents to the airport. I made it to the airport with plenty of time to get through security and wait at my gate for departure. I flew from Melbourne, FL to Charlotte, NC and then had a two-hour layover in Charlotte until my flight departed for Cincinnati. During all of this travel time, I studied my cases for the ethics bowl that was to be the next day. I landed in Cincinnati at 11:50pm and took the hotel shuttle to where I would be staying and where the competition would also be taking place. The National Ethics Bowl Competition started early in the morning with thirty-two teams from across the nation from various large and small colleges and universities. Our first competitor was the ethics team from Dartmouth University. In this round, two of the three cases for which I was the team leader were randomly selected to be debated. I presented both a ten minute speech and 6 minute response, along with answering questions from the judges and getting help from my teammates. We ended up losing this round marginally by less than 10 points. The other two rounds of the day, we went against University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Loyola University in Chicago. We lost to UMBC by six points and beat Loyola in a close match by eleven points. Though we only won one of three rounds, we were proud of ourselves for getting the opportunity to compete in the national bowl and make every round very close by remembering all our arguments effectively. Before I had time to celebrate our good work, I was back at the Cincinnati airport to fly to Atlanta, Georgia to meet back up with my softball team. I arrived in Atlanta Thursday night, and met up with my softball team for two games Saturday afternoon. We won both of these games against Ohio Dominican 3-1 and University of North Alabama 8-2. I played right field, hitting in the two-spot and batted one for three with a sac bunt and one stolen base in the first game and one for three with one walk, one RBI, and scored one run in the second game. The other four games to be played on Saturday and Sunday were canceled due to rain. We ended the long week continuing our winning streak to twelve games. I received the Sunshine State Conference player of the week with the week’s batting average of .542 and an on-base percentage of .560, four stolen bases, seven runs and four RBI.
I am so thankful that the Barry athletic department and philosophy department were both able to accommodate my schedules and allow me the opportunity to not only represent Barry University on the softball field, but in a national academic setting as well. I am very proud to be a part of such a strong and competitive atmosphere, where academic excellence and achievement is upheld in the highest regard for even their student-athletes. The feeling of accomplishment in not only participating in both competitions, but also in succeeding is something that I will always remember. This experience taught me how to better manage my time, push myself farther than I would ever imagine, and still come out playing and arguing my best game.