Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University’s Kristin Whitmire has had a lot of reasons to call it quits on her softball career, after losing three years to injuries – including the past two – but the fifth-year senior will get a final chance to leave the game on her own terms and not on the sideline.Signed back in 2009 to play shortstop, the Apison, TN native, has only played in a total of 47 games in her career for the Lady Govs having lost all but five games of two seasons of play and three total calendar years due to surgery on her shoulder as a true freshman and two knee reconstructions in her junior and senior seasons.
“It’s a testament to her, because a lot of people would have just hung it up,” Austin Peay coach Stephanie Paris said. “But because of who she is as a competitor to give it one last shot and do everything she has too to get ready this fall and spring to get out there and play again I’m excited to have her leadership.”
With the team’s fall practice schedule starting September 3rd, Whitmire got her release from team doctors and training room to return to full playing status last week on August 28th for the first time since her original knee injury on February 20th, 2012.
“It’s indescribably how it feels to finally get a chance to play again and it’s been a while,” Whitmire said. “But I’m really excited and to know I have the support of the coaching staff who have been very helpful and a wonderful backup system to help me out.”
“My teammates, especially the ones that have been here for years, know what I’ve gone through and I think they have a lot of respect for what I’m trying to do and they’ve all been extremely helpful and very positive. My team is my family and they truly make me feel I’ve never been hurt.”
As a freshman, back in 2010, Whitmire’s career got put on hold for the first time after being medically red-shirted after undergoing shoulder surgery.
She would get her first chance to play for the Lady Govs during the 2011 season, playing in 42 of 52 games played by Austin Peay – including 30 starts at shortstop – but her play wasn’t up to her standards in still recovering from the lingering effects of the surgery as well as having to deal with the tragic deaths of her grandparents in a accident.
“Every time that I have been down I’ve always talked to someone that’s told me there is always someone worst out there,” Whitmire said. “I have both my arms and both my legs and I’ve been through a lot of tough times, but I’ve had a lot of support and not only because of injuries but through dealing with deaths in my family.
“I won’t lie, there have been some down times and times I’ve thought about giving up, but it’s hard to give up a sport that you love and know that it’s over.”
The 2012 season got off to a good start for Whitmire — who moved over to a new position at second base — hitting just below .300 when fate played another cruel twist on her, as she suffered two torn ligaments in her right knee just five games into the season when her spikes caught while trying to make a throw back into the infield after going back on a pop-up and making a catch in short right field versus Jackson State University on February 20th ending her season.
But even more cruel twist was that she suffered a second ligament tear during rehabilitation which took the 2013 season from her.
“Every accident and every injury I’ve had has made me a very strong person and I know that I can get through this and have a successful year, that is what I’m shooting for.”
Whitmire will be moving to first base this year, as the Lady Govs open their fall schedule of games on September 21st at Tennessee Martin’s Fall Tournament, and if the softball fates appreciate a person’s willingness to never give up and fight through adversity she will walk off the field next May finishing a career on her own terms and not on crutches.
“Softball is a lot more mental than a lot of people think and going through what I have has made me the strongest person that I ever thought I could be,” Whitmire said. “Everything that has happened, although it’s not been fun, it’s really changed who I am and I don’t think I would take any of it back.”