March 28, 2012
By Natalie McElwee
Some people may be shocked to find out that `Softball' is not Sarah Dawson's middle name. This 37-year-old, now head coach of the Louisiana Tech University softball team, has been around the softball field ever since she was too young to hold a bat.
Coming from a family of softball players and coaches, Dawson was destined to follow in those cleat-steps.
"I started playing softball between the ages of five and six years old," she said. "My mother had been a softball player and a really successful one at that. I have two other sisters and I think we all took to softball more than some of the other sports that we played. So I've kind of played it my entire life or at least been around it."
Since discovering the beloved game at such an early age, Dawson accomplished more than can be counted on a scoreboard.
"There was definitely a turning point in high school when I chose for myself that I didn't just want to play softball," she said. "I had softball goals I wanted to accomplish."
And accomplish goals Dawson did, some of which include being named an All-American, playing with the American National team against Australia and spending a summer playing softball in Italy.
Dawson said her biggest achievement has not come from awards and honors but from within.
"I figured out how to be successful with what I had and kind of pushed my ability as far as I could push it," she said. "I was never going to be the top five in the nation, but I could be top ten. In my mind, that's what I feel good about."
Out of years playing and experiencing the sport, Dawson said her favorite memory of softball so far is her years spent on the college team at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
"I was able to play with my younger sister," she said. "She's just a year younger than me, and so playing with her was a really special thing to share. There was actually a group of four or five of us from the San Diego area that went to school together, so that was a special thing. Most people when they get to college play with a new set of teammates, so that was kind of cool to be able to play with that group of people for three years."
"Well, this summer I'm getting married, so I'm excited about that," she said with a grin. "That will be really kind of a cool thing. I'm 37. To get married at this age is kind of a life-changer."
Softball has been a source of joy for Dawson throughout her life, opening many doors. It just so happens, the game helped Dawson find someone who would impact her life in one of the greatest of ways.
Of the many things that make this engagement special is one simple fact: Brad Kerr, her now fiancé, is also her assistant softball coach of almost three years. To say softball has impacted every vessel of Dawson's life is an understatement.
"We've been dating for two years," she said. "When the team doesn't play well, it can be tough. We both have a bad day at work. We've learned to balance each other out. We communicate with one another."
While some men might feel emasculated to work for their future wife, Dawson said it has not affected their relationship.
"Nothing has changed since we've been engaged," she said. "He doesn't get preferential treatment and he doesn't get worse treatment since we are engaged. Hopefully I don't treat him any differently because we are in a relationship."
Kerr's proposal did not involve softball but did involve two other loves of her life: her two-year-old niece, Quinn, and five-year-old nephew, Nate.
"Brad had said that it was Nate's ideas to make birthday cards for me since my birthday was a week away," Dawson said. "I was going to have to judge them. Nate had a card that said `Will you', Quinn's said `marry me?' and Brad was on one knee with a ring. It was pretty cool that he involved the kids because I love my nieces and nephews."
The couple plans to marry in Dawson's hometown of San Diego this summer. Dawson said if she and Kerr have a son one day, she will not mind him crossing over to the dark side of baseball.
(Natalie McElwee is a junior journalism major from West Monroe and is taking Feature Writing (Journalism 210) this quarter.)