By Ryan Buck
Change is the defining challenge in the transition from high school to college for young adults.
Success is often determined by who can adapt more quickly and seamlessly.
For Laura Beck, her journey from Canfield High School softball standout to a place in the Geneva College record books defined mastery in dealing with change.
As a freshman, Beck paced Geneva with a .387 batting average in leading the Golden Tornadoes to their second consecutive appearance in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference title game.
Beck earned a spot on the PAC All-Conference first team while becoming the first freshman in school history to receive All-American honors from the National Christian College Athletic Association.
“I was just hoping to get on the field and play,” Beck said of her expectations. “I was really shocked at how well I did, but I was proud of myself. I realized that I put a lot of hard work in over the years.”
Her instant success wasn’t as startling for 11th year Geneva coach Van Zanic.
“I knew what we had when I recruited her and she’s had some great success in high school and travel ball,” Zanic said. “Going into a freshman year, your expectations are a little less in that it’s her first go-around at the college level.
“When she ends up hitting .400 for most of the year and basically hitting out of the four-to-five hole all year-long, it’s quite impressive.”
Compounding the transition to college life and a new level of competition on the softball field were some changes in her game.
“I started trying to hit left-handed when I was like 12,” said Beck, a natural right-hander. “I started dragging and slapping then I realized I could actually hit the ball left-handed, but I didn’t go that direction.
“I was more confident right-handed and then going to college camps, when they knew I was a switch-hitter they realized that my swing was a lot better left-handed. I started working and becoming more confident.”
The adjustment, which allows her to come back to the right side of the plate when necessary, was cemented once she established her place in the heart of the Geneva lineup
“It keeps me ahead of the game,” Beck said. “I have something a lot of people don’t have.”
For the four-year starter at catcher for Canfield, a more abrupt move came on a last-minute request from the coaching staff during an early-season trip to Florida.
“It was pretty interesting. My assistant coach asked me if I had a first baseman’s glove and I said no,” Beck said. “I’ve never played first base in my life.
“They taught me in about five minutes. It helps that I used to catch. I was used to digging balls out of the dirt and being prepared for whatever was to come at me.”
A sound mindset and awareness of her psychology studies balanced the triumphs and tribulations in her new setting.
“I think about what I do wrong. I’ll analyze it and then try not to think about it too much. That’s what always kills people is they think too much. They always say, with softball or any sport, it’s 90-percent mental.”
Her first year at Geneva behind her, Beck has three more years to chase every school mark.
“Try and get better, that’s what I hope to do this year,” she said.