Hard Work Paying Off For KU Softball Walk-On
March 6, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
In Lawrence, Kan., half a country away from home, Julie Jenkins unpacked the belongings she brought with her from New Jersey. She took in her surroundings, the small dorm room that would be her home over the next year. She took a peak out the window, watching the students below hauling in their own boxes of things to their respective rooms in the Jayhawker Towers. Then her hand bumped against the cell phone in her pocket. Suddenly the butterflies came back and she was reminded of the phone call she needed to make, a phone call that could make her dream a reality. She took one more deep breath and dialed Adam Roorbach, assistant softball coach at the University of Kansas.
Not many girls growing up in New Jersey dream of going to college at Kansas, but that was not the case for Jenkins. Her father grew up in Lawrence and is a Kansas alum Growing up, summer visits to the heartland to spend time with family who lived in Lawrence helped Jenkins become a Jayhawk fan. She fell in love with the town and savored the atmosphere of a Kansas basketball game.
When the time came for Jenkins to choose a college, the decision to attend Kansas was practically a no-brainer. But the four-sport athlete from Mount Olive, N.J., had more in mind than just attending KU, she wanted to fulfill her dream of playing Division I softball.
After being accepted to KU, Jenkins, a 5-foot-4 outfielder, emailed the softball coaches during the summer before arriving on campus. She knew it was too late to be considered for a scholarship but she was hoping for an opportunity to walk on. Jenkins emailed schedules of her summer tournaments so that the coaching staff could come see her play but Jenkins’ games came and went while Kansas was in the process of looking for a new head coach. Despite the road block, Jenkins would not let up on her dream to play college softball. She was persistent and continued to email new Kansas softball coach Megan Smith.
Her determination finally paid off when she got a call from assistant coach Adam Roorbach.
“Coach Roorbach emailed me back and gave me his number and said when I get settled in to give him a call,” Jenkins said as a proud smile began to spread. “So I called him when I moved in and went in to talk with him. I had a practice and then from there, they told me I could join the team.”
Jenkins was thrilled and immediately began working out with the team, where she instantly clicked with the players. Shortly after moving more than 1,000 miles away from home to a school where she hardly knew anyone, Jenkins found a family in the Jayhawk softball team.
“My favorite thing about Kansas is the softball team,” said Jenkins. “All the girls are really fun and I love being around them. They are all so positive.”
Not satisfied with simply earning a spot on the roster, Jenkins pushed herself at practice and worked hard to impress the staff hoping to be rewarded with some quality playing time. Jenkins got her wish early in the season when injuries created openings on the Jayhawks’ roster. Jenkins has already appeared in eight games for KU and has made seven starts.
“It’s really exciting but I know I still have to keep working hard because at any point there are a bunch of other girls who can take that spot,” said Jenkins. “But I think its cool to play a Division I sport. I have a lot of friends who say ‘It’s so cool that your name is on the website for a D-I sport.’ I just think its cool and I am really proud.”