Athletic trainer turned softball catcher

Jenna Hering is the new trailblazer on campus


Bridget Reilly

Athletic training senior and catcher Jenna Hering practices catching with nursing senior and utility player Tucker Caraway. Hering has chosen to complete her senior year as a student-athlete in softball, playing as catcher for the Mustangs, Feb. 5. Photo by Bridget Reilly

Jenna Hering, athletic trainer senior, adds collegiate softball catcher to her resume. Hering transitioned from being softball’s athletic trainer to a player on the team. She said she has always dreamed of being a student-athlete but never had the opportunity.

“Softball is always been my first love, [and] first sport,” Hering said.

Hering had a strong support system under her including her family and Assistant Athletic Trainer Samantha Carter.

“She is one of the best trainers that have come through my rotations… I also taught her in several classes in school. She was a very good student. She paid attention [and] she did all of her work. She studied hard, she did well on tests, [and] she showed overall interest,” Carter said.

Last fall, Hering made Provost’s Honor Roll, for maintaining a grade point average of between 3.75 or 3.99. As season approaches, Hering’s schedule went up another level. To maintain a balance between school, athletic training and softball she schedules everything in a planner including her 150 clinical rotation hours, classes and team practices. She also is in the middle of studying for the Board Of Certification exam, an exam focused on the entry level athletic training profession.

“She is a very self-driven and motivated person, but even more as an athlete,” Carter said.

Focusing on athletic training for the past three years, through her clinical rotations, she was able to train with football, softball, golf, tennis and track.

“She worked softball with me last season in the spring. She brought her glove to practice every day, she was involved with practice every day as an athletic training student and she was excited to get out there when she wasn’t even playing,” Carter said.

Hering watched and shagged (retrieved) a couple of fly balls with her old high school glove, not knowing that one day she would need it, again.

“Last year, I was with softball for my clinical rotation and, I would bring my glove and mess around. Sam would bring her glove too and we would throw [around] with each other,” Hering said.

Hering started playing softball in first grade but stopped after a horrible coaching experience. She then picked the sport back up her eighth-grade year and realized how much she loved the game.

“I start playing my eighth grade year, and I was like ‘man I love this sport,’ and then I went to high school and I played all four years, and I was like ‘man I really love this sport,’ so it has always been just fun for me,” Hering said.

Hering said she decided to continue playing all the way up to her senior year at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wisconsin. She took a break the past three years, wanting to focus on school and athletic training.

“When I came to Midwestern, I didn’t want to try to walk on, then make it and make the hard decision of playing softball and trying to balance athletic training,” Hering said.

So she decided to start playing intramural softball to fulfill her love for the game. One night, softball Head Coach Mark Ryal saw her play a game and immediately wanted her on his team. The team was searching for another catcher and Hering was a perfect match.

“I saw her play in some intramural games last year. Just watched her and always thought ‘well why didn’t she play college softball,'” Ryal said.

At first, Hering thought that this was all a joke and worried about balancing athletic training and softball. However, Ryal worked around her athletic training schedule and found a happy medium.

Carter said, “I kinda put the thought in his head, that maybe she would be a good person to join the team. So she went. She hit. She threw. She caught balls, [and] she took grounders.  Then he, ended up putting her on the team, so I like to say I was her manager in that!”

Carter was not the only one who believed that Hering would be a good fit. Ryal also believed in Hering, calling her “a great person.”

“I knew she would be a good addition to the team. She’s positive, she’s driven, she’s goal oriented, and I know she knows what she is going to do with her life,” Ryal said.

Ryal and teammate, Daylan Inkman, radiology freshmen, both believe that Hering will be a big impact to the team this season.

“She does provide another catcher for us in the game. She can really play anywhere and we can use her all the time. She has a big impact on our team,” Inkman said.

In fielder Inkman, describes her new teammate as “positive, motivating and always keeps you laughing.”

Becoming a student-athlete has given her an advantage of being on both sides of the table so, she will be able to have “a better understanding of the emotional stress,[and] the physical stress but also I’ve been there and can help you out,” Hering said.

Hering calls softball her first love and excited to finish her senior off having fun and taking in all the memories she and her teammates will create throughout the season. Hering will graduate in spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. After graduation, she plans to work at the University of Central Oklahoma as a graduate assistant athletic trainer helping men and women’s basketball while earning her Master of Science in Exercise Science.