Traditionally, athletes wanting to secure a scholarship do so by playing on their high school team.
Heather Kupitz committed to play softball at Southern Wesleyan despite never playing softball with a high school team. She is home schooled and plays on a travel team.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Heather Kupitz is an exception.
Not only has Kupitz never played for her high school team, she's never attended high school.
She has been home-schooled her entire life, but that hasn't stopped the 18-year-old from committing to play softball at Southern Wesleyan.
"I guess it's not the conventional way to gain a scholarship," said her father, Craig. "She has worked hard, and this is her reward."
Kupitz has played fastpitch softball since she was 10 and played on travel teams since the age of 12. She's attended bimonthly pitching lessons with Darlene Truesdale, a pitching coach in South Carolina.
The Evans resident has developed nine pitches and has touched 60 on the radar gun.
But playing travel ball, Kupitz says, is how she got noticed.
Travel ball is about the only way for a home schooler who excels in sports to be noticed.
But playing on a travel team becomes expensive.
The teams send players across the Southeast, and the teens must sacrifice most of their summer traveling to and from tournaments.
"It takes a big commitment," said Craig Kupitz, who is also Heather's coach. "But they also have a lot of fun."
Some schools allow home-school students to participate in varsity sports. Kupitz played at Aiken Christian before the school disallowed home-school student participation.
Kupitz actually prefers not playing for a high school team.
"I don't think there are any disadvantages" to not playing high school fastpitch, she said. "Travel ball is more competitive."
But she added, "A bunch of home-schoolers out there want to play with high schools, but the schools won't allow them to play."
Kupitz says she knows many of the area's best players and goes to some of the games during the fastpitch season.
Unlike many of the senior standouts in the area who are mulling over college choices, Kupitz has known where she wants to go for two years.
She fell in love with Southern Wesleyan at a Christian college fair at Augusta Christian Schools two years ago.
"I ended up at their table more than any other table," she said.
The family visited the school's campus, and Kupitz's thoughts about the school were reaffirmed.
"When I stepped on campus, God's presence was there," she said.
"I loved the school, the coach and the players I met."
Although she hasn't signed a letter of intent, Kupitz says she is "110 percent" committed to Southern Wesleyan.
"It is the perfect fit."
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