After four years of varsity-level play for the Pirates, Rocky River’s Colleen Meese is headed to Bluffton University. The Cleveland.com “Top softball pitcher in Northeast Ohio” nominee will don the Beaver’s purple and white next spring as she steps up to the college level.
For Meese, who is competing for the Ohio Varsity Vipers 18U team this summer, getting the chance to play collegiately has been an objective since the very beginning.
“It’s very exciting to me because I’ve dreamed about playing college softball ever since I picked up a bat and glove,” Meese said. “I’m very blessed to receive the opportunity.”
The transition from high school to college can be a daunting one for everybody, especially for student-athletes. For Meese, Bluffton’s smaller campus was alluring as she believes it will make this adjustment easier.
“Bluffton has a very small campus,” Meese said. “There are about 750 students that go there. I love the size because I feel like I’m just at high school.”
In addition to the size of the campus, Meese was impressed by the hospitality that Bluffton offered during her visits. Getting to meet some of the current Beavers let her know she would fit right in at the university.
“I felt so welcomed and like I was right at home,” Meese said. “I knew Bluffton was going to be a great place to go because of all the upperclassmen and how helpful they are. The players took me right under their wings.”
Not only has Meese been able to connect with current players on the team, but she also has a strong relationship with Bluffton head coach Paige Jansen. In fact, she began talking with Jansen prior to the start of her senior year at Rocky River.
“Coach Jansen was super supportive during the recruiting process,” Meese said. “I have been communicating with her since the end of my junior year.”
Meese was recruited by Bluffton as a pitcher/utility player. Meese feels her past playing experience has her well-equipped to flourish in this role.
“In my past three years of playing travel softball, I was never at a set spot in the field,” Meese said. “It was a new position every game.”
Earning the chance to play at the next level is a big accomplishment alone, but Meese has already set goals for this next chapter of her career both on and off the field.
“My goals are to stay on top of everything and have lots of fun,” Meese said in regard to her freshman year. “I’d like to make the team for the Florida trip that we have during spring break.”
As her freshman year approaches, Meese has utilized the summer by preparing with the Vipers. She explained that the support of the group and the knowledge of the coaches has helped her improve as a player.
“Playing for the Vipers has been an awesome experience,” Meese said. “My team is like my second family and having two coaches that played college ball and bring their skills to us really helps me understand how college will be.”
Meese will be majoring in exercise science at Bluffton. She accredited her experience at T3 Performance for her desire to pursue the career path.
“Strength and conditioning coaching is what I’ve wanted to do ever since I started training at T3 Performance,” Meese said. “They make it super enjoyable, but also can be very serious, which is why I chose to train there.”
Meese said she’d like to work with high school or college level athletes. Based on a glowing description from her former coach at Rocky River, Jeff Hammond, she will do an excellent job in this field.
“We could rely on her to be there every day and to play the right way,” Hammond said when awarding Meese the Team Leader award her senior year. “She is an extension of the coaching staff and was great working with the younger players.”