A college athlete knows what the word, “sacrifice,” means.
Whether it’s sacrificing time, sleep or participating in different activities, a college athlete has a good concept of sacrifice.
For a Belmont softball player, sacrifice is second nature.
Sophomore third-baseman Jess Andree has made the ultimate sacrifice in pre-enlisting to the army.
“Growing up I always knew it would be something cool to do with my life and make that commitment to serve my country,” said Andree.
Commitment is something Andree has learned through her lifelong journey playing softball.
“I’ve always had an idea of what I want to do, so I think that just kind of helped make the commitment easier and it’s not a question for me. I know I want to do it,” she said.
She started playing the game back when she was 9 years old and watching her older brother play baseball.
“I wanted to be like him, so I said I’ll play softball. That’s close, so I just started playing it and kind of fell in love with the game,” said Andree.
Andree experienced a very male-heavy childhood, always playing with the neighborhood boys and her brother’s friends. So she learned from an early age how to be tough and hold her own.
When she wasn’t playing around with the guys, she was out on the diamond perfecting her skill. The physical aspect of the game and workouts to prepare for competition translates to the battlefield, she said.
Now, Andree is not headed off to war quite yet. As of right now, she is considered on reserve until she graduates from Belmont.
Currently, she is part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps or ROTC program at Vanderbilt which entails workouts in the morning three days a week and class two times per week.
This is on top of her softball commitment and full course load at Belmont.
And there’s still the chance she could get called up to serve at any moment.
“I don’t think about it because it’s not very likely, but I think if it were to happen, I think I’d be O.K.,” said Andree.
In the meantime, Andree is focused on being as prepared as possible for her plan to enter the medical corps in the Army after finishing school. Through her preparations, she’s finding a lot of connections between her ROTC training and softball.
“Just last week I was talking to one my assistant coaches about how there’s so many lessons that we go over in class with ROTC that goes with athletics and softball,” she said.
Specifically, when it comes to teamwork.
“Last week our lesson was teamwork versus group work. How groups are more focused on the self, while teams are more focused on the whole,” said Andree. “I was like, ‘wow, that’s really applicable because a lot of teams will play as a group as more selfish and they don’t succeed so it’s kind of interesting to apply it to everything.’”
Although she’s taking classes for ROTC, she credits softball with teaching her a lot of valuable lessons.
“I think it’s helped me thus far to develop as a leader. Just knowing to take charge and when to do stuff and when to let other people take charge.”
Andree plans to take on a leadership role in the military, so she is thankful she has the ability to experience a team atmosphere through college softball.
“I’m going to be an officer, so I will be leading other people, a team of people, so I think it’s nice to go through a team environment and seeing how that works,” she said.
Although she is just a sophomore, Andree is already recognizing leadership qualities in herself and in her teammates who support her choice to pre-enlist.
“I think all of them have told me at some point that they would not be able to do it, and I they think it’s really cool that I do it,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have their support.”
Although there’s an outpour of support from her teammates, Andree wasn’t sure how her family would react to her decision.
“I was nervous to tell my dad about it, and I didn’t think he would be on board with it because I’m his little girl. He doesn’t want me going off to war,” said Andree.
Luckily, she was wrong.
“My dad actually really surprised me,” said Andree. “He’s been nothing but supportive.”
With the support of her teammates and family, Andree is excited about the future. Although she has two years left, she is highly anticipating her assignment.
“Who knows where I’m going to end up, which is really scary for a lot of people, but I think it’s kind of cool to think about,” she said. “I could end up pretty much anywhere.”
Every day for Andree is one step closer to her dream of making the ultimate sacrifice.
Although it’s scary and unknown, there is no doubt in Andree’s mind this is meant to happen.
“It just feels like what I should be doing.”