Age doesn’t define a leader.
Lehigh baseball pitcher Levi Stoudt, track team member Hannah Patrick and women’s lacrosse midfielder Sondra Dickey are living proof of that. All three athletes are freshmen. All three athletes are also standout players making a big impact on their respective teams.
Dickey said coming in from high school, everyone is at the top of their game, but when all of that talent is gathered together on one team, the level of competitiveness rises.
“As a freshman, help from the upperclassmen made it easy to adapt,” Dickey said. “They told us what we needed to know and how to be successful here, and it made the transition much smoother.”
Adjusting to this new competitive level took practice. Stoudt said what he noticed most was that Division I lineups consist of well-disciplined hitters.
“I had to focus very hard on locating my pitches much more than I did in high school,” Stoudt said. “Along with learning how to set up hitters with certain pitch sequences.”
Patrick said her transition from high school to Lehigh was not an easy one. She said her high school track practices were laid back, and she was pretty much off doing her own thing. As much as she tried to prepare herself to be a college athlete, the training she had in high school wasn’t enough to adequately prepare her.
Despite the transitions they faced, Dickey, Stoudt and Patrick have worked hard both in the weight room and on the field to better themselves.
But they couldn’t have done it alone.
Each athlete agreed they wouldn’t have achieved their success during their seasons without the guidance of their teams, the upperclassmen and the coaches.
“I love my team,” Patrick said. “The group of throwers are especially awesome and are 12 of my best friends. Everyone is always super supportive, cheering for me to finish my millionth set of squats, telling me to keep my head up and stay positive and helping coach me to fix my form and technique. The team has, with open arms, welcomed me to the team and encourages me every day, pushing me to do my best. They hold me accountable and they want me to do well.”
Joining the baseball family was easy, Stoudt said. He added the upperclassmen really helped all of the freshmen get acclimated and feel comfortable on the team. Two of the upperclassmen pitchers who were sidelined due to injuries helped mentor him.
Dickey said what helped her most throughout the season and her transition to Lehigh was the encouragement and support she received from her teammates and coaches. She said the friendly and supportive atmosphere of the team made it easy to integrate.
In some cases, taking a leadership and impactful role on a team as an underclassman causes tension. With these three athletes, that was not the case.
Each of the athletes said they received nothing but encouragement and support from all of their upperclassmen teammates.
“We were all head-to-head at the beginning of the season and we talked about how we could support each other no matter who was placing higher or better higher marks,” Patrick said. “At first, I was worried that beating the seniors as a freshman was going to cause animosity, but I was very wrong. They believe in me more than I believe in myself.”
The culture that has developed on these teams is a huge part of the successes of these three freshmen, in addition to their talent.