SPORTS

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May 10, 2002

Senior Feature: Kelly Ostler, softball

This week the Maroon had the pleasure of sitting down with one of Chicago's finest graduating athletes of all time. Kelly Ostler has been a four-year member of the softball team and has been the team's ace since she arrived. She finishes her Chicago softball career with an 11-7 season in which she struck out 180 batters. The All-American Ostler is in seventh place in all-time strikeouts for Division III softball with a daunting 689 Ks and has made a triumphant mark on U of C athletic history with a career record of 49 wins and 16 losses. Ostler also produced at the plate with .332 career average, four homeruns, and 56 RBIs. Her strong leadership and on-field presence will certainly be missed in the years to come.

CM: Just a basic question to start off: what is your concentration?

KO: I'm a biological sciences major with a specialization in molecular and cell biology.

CM: I should mention that we're here in Kelly's lab today. What exactly do you do in the lab?

KO: It's a cancer research lab and I'm a laboratory assistant—just basic general lab procedures like PCR—general to everyone in the field, but to everyone else it's kind of strange. My dad decided to come one day, and he expected to see boiling cauldrons and smoke bubbling out and everything, but it's just a lab

CM: How did you first come to play softball?

KO: Actually it was my dad. I started playing when I was five with T-Ball, and so after [Chicago's] last game he actually said to me, "It's been a great 18 years," and it doesn't seem like that on the whole but…Dad actually told a funny story that after my first year I wanted to quit. I just didn't like it. He went and convinced my best friend to play and convince me that she really thought it was a lot of fun and wanted to play so…if it actually wasn't for him I don't know if I'd still have played even my second year of T-ball.

CM: So after you just kept playing you started to like it more and more

KO: My first year I don't really remember all that much; when you're that little you're the catcher on a T-ball team that doesn't do that much, but by my third year I just remember having so much fun—our team was great and we all were hitting really well, and from then it just kind of stuck in me and I just loved the game.

CM: How did you end up at the University of Chicago?

KO: That's a strange one…I wasn't that specific in schools that I applied to. At the time I wanted to do zoology and I knew I wanted to play softball, [so] I went to the library and found schools that had zoology majors and softball. Chicago was one of them, and so I applied mainly to state schools and then here. The [Chicago] coach at the time, Michelle Hawkins, she heavily recruited me the summer before, and Chicago just seemed like the perfect fit. It was not too far from home but it was far enough that I was away. It had softball, and it was a great school.

CM: You've obviously done a lot for Chicago softball. What do you consider your greatest achievement on the field?

KO: The highlight was probably hitting .600 in our weekend tournament. Everything about that little moment was just really nice: my family was there, all my friends were there. They had made signs, and when I hit [the ball] they just went nuts, and it was really embarrassing but it was also really nice. I think that was my personal highlight.

CM: How about off the field?

KO: Well this is still kind of on the field, but I've now gotten back into coaching—right now I'm coaching a fourteen-and-under team—and to see them progress through the summer, and they actually won a qualifier for this summer's nationals. It was different not playing, but it was just so rewarding to see how far they'd come through the season.

CM: Do you think there's a future in coaching for you?

KO: Probably. I can't see myself running away.

CM: What about playing softball? Is that also in the future?

KO: That's kind of hard, especially being a pitcher because you have dedicate so much time to being just adequate at softball pitching, and so unless I was going to dedicate a ton of my time to it, it wouldn't be as rewarding. So that's a bit more difficult, and then the other option is playing slow-pitch, which is just a completely different sport. I'll probably end up doing that, but it's just not the same.

CM: What has been your greatest struggle here?

KO: I think in the beginning the biggest struggle was to know how much to dedicate myself to each activity. My first quarter here I dedicated something like 98 percent of my time to studying and nothing else.

CM: That's a familiar story

KO: I did fine in classes, but then I really wasn't having too much fun, and then you sort of do the backlash thing. I think the hardest thing was adjusting to find the perfect medium.

CM: How would describe your relationship with coach [Ruth] Kamack?

KO: Kamack and I have a great relationship. I think when the team is in a hard space with Kamack, I end up being the one to talk to her, and everybody else just doesn't really want to. I don't know why, but Kamack and I have a good relationship.

CM: Have you had any role models throughout your four years here, either academically, personally, or athletically?

KO: I guess I would have to say Beth Marquardt, who was a second-year pitcher when I came in and graduated after my second year. She was the first one here to hit 500 strikeouts, and we had a lot in common. So I think that was really good to come in and have her there.

CM: What have you enjoyed most about softball here?

KO: My teammates. They're like a second family. I mean right from the beginning of winter quarter you spend so much time with them, and it's literally a second family. I would not be half as happy here if I didn't have them. I don't what I would do without teammates. The other good thing is that it seems that the team is really balanced in studies, so if you're weaker on one point there's somebody on the team that majors in that subject. So you end up being able to play off their strengths.

CM: What are some of your other hobbies or interests here?

KO: I was actually dubbed my freshman year as the 'craft-trix.' I love crafts, and that's from my mom, so I have scrapbook that I keep all my pictures in and stuff like that.

CM: Do you have any plans for next year?

KO: Next year I will be right here working in the lab and probably doing a little softball.

CM: Thank you very much, Kelly, for doing this interview and being with us today. Good luck in the future, and congratulations on a fine career here.