Throwback Thursday: Sara Sidebottom

March 1, 2012

030112aaa_118_7509873.jpegSara Sidebottom (Softball) 2006-08
After transferring to KU following her freshman year at Pratt Community College, Sidebottom became an important part of the Jayhawks’ 2006 Big 12 Championship team. The Hutchinson, Kan. native won the Jayhawk Spirit Award in 2006 for her positive attitude on the field and in the dugout and was also named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Scholar-Athlete team, the same season. Sidebottom can still be seen around Kansas Athletics, as she has transitioned from athlete to employee, where she is an information specialist. The former information systems major started as an intern with Kansas Athletics in December 2008 and has been with KAI ever since.

What made you decide to transfer to Kansas from Pratt CC after your freshman year?
“I just didn’t really feel that Pratt had everything I wanted in a university; it was kind of a late decision to go to Pratt anyways and I’ve always wanted to go to a bigger city. Pratt definitely wasn’t a big city and I always wanted to come to KU, so it was just the right time after one year at Pratt.”

What was it like being at KU in 2006 when the team won the Big 12 championship?030112aaa_118_7509880.jpeg
“It was probably the most surreal feeling in the world. I went from trying out on the team and not being sure if I was going to be kept on after the fall season, to getting that shot to stay on the team throughout the season. Then not only getting to the Big 12 championship, but we also beat Cat Osterman’s team (Texas) that year at home. Then we placed in the tournament, won the tournament and finally went to regionals for NCAA’s. It was just insane; you couldn’t put into words what it was like to go through all of that in one year. It was a really awesome experience and it definitely made me appreciate the opportunities I was given as a walk-on.”

Would you say that was your most memorable moment on the diamond while at Kansas?
“Winning the Big 12 tournament was probably my most memorable moment because we were the sixth seed in the tournament. At that point in time, a sixth seed had never won the tournament; that was the lowest seed to ever win the tournament and everything just played out so perfectly. We had been back and forth with Oklahoma that whole year – they had always been that big rival for us – so to beat them in the championship game, made it that much sweeter.”

What would you say was your favorite off the field memory at KU?
“I think just getting to hang out with all of the girls. We tried to make it fun and we always used to get together on Thursday nights and watch Laguna Beach. It was kind of a guilty pleasure for a lot of the girls on the team so that was 030112aaa_118_7509893.jpega lot of fun. It was just something that we could all get together for outside of the softball field and take a break from studying.”

You were honored with the Jayhawk Spirit Award in 2006, what did that mean to you?
“My career at KU was kind of as a behind the scenes player. I didn’t get a lot of playing time so winning that award really showed that the girls appreciated what I did for the team. I didn’t get my name in the paper or my stat lines in the media guide all of the time, but the time that I spent with the girls and playing, really did mean a lot to them. It meant a lot that the girls saw that and knew that I was giving it my all even if it wasn’t on the field.”

Do you still keep in contact with your former teammates?
“Some of them I keep in touch with a lot; Betsy Wilson, Valerie Chapple and then through Facebook, a couple of other ones but those two definitely. I’m a couple of years removed from the program so I don’t know a lot of the girls now. Brittany Hile still helps out with the team so I talk to her a lot and really now with the role I play as an IT specialist, I help more of the coaching staff now then I would the actual players. I just make sure the coaching staff has everything they need in order to get their job done.”

What do you miss most about playing softball at KU?
“The competitiveness; I play a lot of slow pitch softball in the summer, so I still get to play the sport, but it’s just not as competitive. I also miss the team atmosphere, because you had such a tight knit group of girls who you did everything with, so I miss being able to just be with the team at all times.”

How did you get involved with IT at KU?030112aaa_118_7509903.jpeg
“Well I was majoring in information systems and I actually needed an internship for my sports management part of my degree. At that time I just happened to be talking to my sports student support supervisor and she recommended that I come and talk to the IT department in athletics to see if they needed an intern for the summer. I didn’t really want to do anything in the medical field; I just really wanted to do something within IT, so I just emailed the IT supervisor and asked if he needed an intern and he said sure. That’s really how I got my foot in the door.”

How challenging was it to juggle school and athletics?
“It was a lot to deal with; I look back on it now and I don’t realize how I actually did it. I don’t know how I got homework done, went to school and travelled to all of the places we went. I look back now and it’s just so surreal how much you do as a student-athlete and how much you can actually accomplish during the day.”

Any advice you’d give current student-athletes?
“I think it’s really just time management. Make sure you have a firm grasp on what’s important and what needs to be done. You don’t think that being in a hotel or being in the airport, you can get your homework done, so just make sure you use your time wisely and then you won’t feel so stressed trying to get things accomplished. Then also, just try and take care of yourself; make sure you doing all of the right things in order to stay alert and be at the peak physical performance, so you don’t feel tired and feel like you can get it all done.”

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