RCW: #OneTeam with Brynn Minor
Junior Brynn Minor is a pitcher and utility player who transferred to Kansas after two successful years at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Minor was one of the most-decorated players in junior college athletics, winning two national championships, as well as being named the 2017 National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) National Player of the Year and 2017 NJCAA Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
She’s a Kansas native who was born and raised in Wichita and grew up in an athletic family. Now it is Minor’s time to help the Jayhawks and live out her childhood dream of playing Division I softball.
Q: What collegiate sports did your family members play?
A: My mom (Nancy) played volleyball and basketball for two years at Cowley Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas, and two years at Newman University in Wichita. My dad (Paul) played baseball for two years at Merced College in California, and then two years at Newman. My older brother (Bryce) played baseball at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, for two years and then he played at Friends University in Wichita for one year. My little brother (Braden) played baseball at the University of Oklahoma last year and is currently playing at Cowley Community College.
Q: How have sports played a role in your family dynamic?
A: It was fun because we were always around sports even if we weren’t actually playing. If I had a game, my brothers would be there and if they had a game, I would be there. All of our free time was spent at a baseball or softball field growing up.
Q: How old were you when you first started playing sports?
A: I started playing softball and basketball when I was three or four. Then I started volleyball in fifth grade.
Q: What were the advantages of growing up in a baseball/softball family?
A: I definitely think that I learned from having my brothers around. Not so much from their mistakes, but also their successes. Like after my older brother went to college, he definitely helped me adapt going into my freshman year [at Butler]. I’ve always looked up to both my older brother and my younger brother and how they perceive the game. They’ve helped me perceive how softball should be played.
Q: Did you and your brothers practice together?
A: Oh yeah. Even now I still play catch with my brothers and I’ll have one of them toss to me when I hit. Obviously, when we grew up, we definitely did a lot of our practice stuff together even though we don’t play the same sport. We’d always go with my dad out to the field to play together.
Q: Did you play volleyball and basketball like your mom?
A: Yes. I played volleyball and basketball my entire life up until I decided I was going to play softball in college. I actually debated playing basketball in college instead of softball, but I ended up changing my mind.
Q: What made you change your mind?
A: I felt like I had a better grasp of the game of softball. I had a lot more growing to do with basketball. You approach softball differently than basketball and I just felt like I was more prepared to play college softball than I was to play college basketball.
Q: After playing at a community college, what has your transition to Division I been like? Are there any major differences you’ve noticed?
A: I think a lot of it is just time management. Our practices at Butler were set up a lot differently than they are here. So, just getting used to that has been a change, but it’s definitely been a lot smoother transition than I ever could’ve imagined.
Q: When you were looking at schools to transfer to, what made you choose KU?
A: The whole community is just a great atmosphere. Once I got here, I had a feeling that this was where I was going to call home and I felt like I could fit in with the team. I hadn’t even met any of the girls yet, but hearing what all the coaches had to say made me feel like I had a place here.
Q: As a native Kansan, did you grow up as a Jayhawk fan?
A: My mom has been a die-hard basketball fan since I was young, but other than that I never really pictured myself coming here, so it’s kind of crazy.
Q: What is it like to play for your home state?
A: It’s pretty surreal because not a lot of people can say that they get to represent the state they grew up in. There aren’t a lot of Kansas girls on our roster, so it’s pretty cool to be one of them.
Q: You are obviously a very decorated athlete, having won two national championships at Butler County and being named National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Player of the Year and Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2017. Can you describe what it felt like to receive such prestigious awards?
A: Honestly, I didn’t even know that I had a shot at those awards going into the end of the season. I was just thinking that I was putting myself in a good position to be recruited to go play somewhere. Then I was on my way to the lake and I got an email saying I was selected. I didn’t believe it. I was like, ‘This is spam.’ But it just shows that if you work really hard, anything is possible.
Q: How was your experience competing in the 2017 Canada Cup as a member of the NJCAA Softball National Team?
A: That was a very, very cool experience. I never thought that I’d have the opportunity to represent our country, then I got to do it in a very special way. I met some of the greatest girls I think I’ll ever meet. I’m still friends with some of them and I talk to them on a monthly basis. They’re located all over the country, but we stay in touch. We got to play the No. 1 team in the world (Japan) and it was just really cool. That’s something I will get to tell my kids about.
Q: What has been your favorite softball memory so far?
A: Winning the two national championships was pretty cool. I never thought that I would do that – ever. So, having two is awesome. I had such a great experience at Butler that it just made it that much better to be able to go out in both seasons with a national championship.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge of your collegiate career?
A: I definitely think being a two-way player is very challenging. I’m not saying it’s not doable, but it’s a lot more work than you would expect – being a pitcher and a position player – because you have to put in so much extra work and it’s just a lot on your body. I think it makes you a stronger player as you get older, but it’s definitely a lot and that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve had to learn, especially coming here.
Q: What is it about this sport that makes you so passionate about it?
A: I think the biggest thing that my dad always said to me and my brothers was, ‘You’re never bigger than the game.’ You have to appreciate it for what it is. You’re never going to be as good as you think you are, so you always have to keep working.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment – both on and off the diamond?
A: On the diamond, it would be fulfilling my dream of playing Division I softball. Growing up, that was always my goal and just knowing that I actually accomplished that I think is really big. Off the field, I think the relationships that I’ve built with the people around me and the academic success that I’ve had.
Q: Do you want to pursue a professional softball career?
A: I mean, whatever falls into my lap. I very much just go with the flow. If the opportunity presents itself I might have to take it, but we’ll just have to see. I definitely want to get into a graduate program in either dietetics or nutrition after my bachelor’s degree.
Q: Do you plan to get your future children involved in athletics?
A: Oh yeah. I definitely want to see my kids grow up and play the sport that I’ve grown up loving. That would be cool.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this season?
A: Just getting to go out and play with this team. We have great team chemistry and I can’t wait to see how we all mesh together and come out and perform this season. I think we’re going to have a really great year.