BY REBECCA ISENHART
Niskayuna sports fans may recognize Stacy Gordon’s name. She’s a softball standout who just graduated this past June and will soon head to Easton, Pennsylvania, to attend Lafayette College, and she proudly wore the school’s gear on signing day this past November, when she and 13 other athletes at the high school autographed letters of intent to Division 1 schools.
But the story her parents, Debra and Brian, love to tell reaches further back into their daughter’s past, to a time when she was absolutely hopeless at softball.
“My dad honestly thought there was something wrong with me,” Gordon said, laughing. “I couldn’t hit a stationary ball. I was so terrible.”
It’s no humble exaggeration. Gordon said she distinctly remembers crying after many unsuccessful pitching lessons. She also recalls her parents offering to buy her a lacrosse stick or enroll her in some other sport. She always refused.
“I couldn’t hit the ball off a tee,” Gordon said. “I just really wanted to play.”
The story always gets a laugh, but its message is important for the younger players Gordon works with during camps in the summer, who are between 6 and 12 years old. Gordon was about 8 when she tragically took up softball, then surprised everyone by somehow becoming excellent at it.
She succeeded then by putting in a great deal of work, and that ethic serves her to this day. It helped her face down a sixteen-page packet of workout instructions that arrived in the mail from her new coach not too long ago, for example.
“The lifting part’s not bad. It’s the running part,” she said. ”It’s a lot of timed sprints.”
The trainer that developed the program created the punishing regimen to make sure the team is in shape for the physical fitness test they’ll be subjected to when they arrive on campus. They’re working harder than they need to, so the test will feel like a breeze.
“I think I’m ready,” Gordon said.
Softball will play a huge role in Gordon’s life at school, with workouts at 6 a.m. three days each week and from 4- 7 p.m. every day. The players have to keep their grades up, too, meeting the coach weekly to make sure they’re still on track. The team meets for mandatory study halls, and the coach can connect the players with tutors if they start to fall behind.
The schedule is so demanding that many girls on the team take five classes during the fall semester so they can take a lighter load, three classes, in spring when softball is in season. But even that’s not quite proactive enough for Gordon, who enrolled in an evening class at the University at Albany.
“It’s getting me back into the school mode,” she said.
She’ll leave for orientation at the end of August, which rolls right into the start of classes.
Even with all the responsibilities Gordon is about to shoulder, she’s not at all worried that she’ll fail to have fun. Between the softball team and an active Facebook page for incoming freshmen, she’s already got plenty of friends. And even though she’ll miss her family and her 19-year-old brother Aaron, who plays basketball at Union College, she knows they’ll visit to watch her games.
“I’m ready, but I’m sure I’ll miss it,” she said.