Stahl realizes her potential with Bengals

Jahvon Graham, Reporter

It’s tough to find something you’re passionate about in life. Most kids begin playing sports at a very young age, with the hopes that they’ll grow to love a sport or sports.

For Jean Stahl, a graduate of West Seneca East High School in West Seneca, NY, that wasn’t the case. Stahl was a late bloomer, but now she’s one of the top players on the Buffalo State Bengals softball team.

“I actually started when I was 12 years old because a lot of my friends were playing,” said Stahl. “I was always athletic so I decided to try it out. My best friend’s mom was a coach, so she let me on their team without trying out because I wouldn’t have made it otherwise.”

Stahl didn’t give up on softball although she didn’t fall in love with it right off the bat.

“Well, at first I didn’t really like the sport that much, but it was a fun thing to do with my friends,” she said.

Her work ethic at a young age along with encouragement from one of her coaches paid dividends for her in the long run.

“One time, my coach told me I had a lot of potential and I believed him,” said Stahl. “You don’t just learn a sport like softball in a couple months over the summer, it’s an all-year round type of thing. I went to practices all-year round for my summer team.”

After high school, Stahl had her sights set on attending prestigious D-I schools. She would ultimately settle for Buffalo State.

“It wasn’t my first choice. I originally wanted to go to Ohio State or North Carolina,” said Stahl. “Family troubles caused me to stay closer to home, but I don’t regret it. I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed Buffalo State as much as I did if I didn’t have my softball family there with me every step of the way. The love and respect I have for them all is beyond anything I can put into words.”

Stahl really grew as a player from year to year and it was evident. Growing as a person helped Stahl become a well-rounded softball player, and vice-versa.

“Jean is one of the sweetest, kindest hearted people I know,” said Stephanie Novo, a teammate and friend. “There isn’t anybody else I would’ve rather had come in with and get to play the full four years with.”

Stahl won SUNYAC player of the week for the week of March 30, 2015. Her junior season, she batted .310 with 31 hits and 14 RBIs. Her senior year, 2016, she saw even more success. Stahl finished the regular season batting .400 with 36 hits and nine RBIs.

“I’m so happy for her and proud of her for having such a great year on the field,” said Novo. “I always knew how great of a player she was and I’m happy she’s showing every team that this year.”

Stahl has a very humble approach to the game of softball.

“I never really though myself as a good player, I just do my best to stop the ball in the field and hit it at the plate,” said Stahl. “I play the game for fun, the added bonus is people telling me that I’m decent at it.”

More times than not, athletes want to be perfectionists. But for Stahl, softball is about having fun and staying involved as an athlete.

“I got used to always playing, and it was just an outlet for me with everything going on in my life,” said Stahl. “I never needed anyone to tell me that I was good, softball was just always a good competitive thing for me to enjoy doing with my friends and still is. The best part about it was playing on the team. I’ll remember the relationships I had with all of the girls.”

Nothing is more exciting and satisfying than winning a championship in your final season, and Stahl would love for that to be the case.

“It would be amazing, leaving my senior year with a championship would make everything so much more worth it,” said Stahl.

“Jean is one of the most selfless teammates I’ve had. You can tell she just really loves playing the game and being around everyone,” said teammate Sarah Gorski. “She’s just as selfless of a person as she is a player and I’m lucky I’ve gotten to be around her and know her over the past four years.”

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