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Athlete of the Week: Paige Swantek

By Thomas Scavetta
Assistant Sports Editor

Paige Swantek, senior speech-language pathology major from Smithtown, N.Y., is the captain of the softball team and is a very versatile player. Swantek plays multiple positions for the Pioneers including, catcher, first basemen and designated player. Entering her fourth year with the Pioneers, Swantek has earned All-East Coast Conference honors in each of her first three years. In addition, she has also been recognized twice as a Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-Region Player and achieved Academic All-America third-team accolades last year.

Paige Swantek, senior captain of the softball team. Photo courtesy of LIU Post Athletics
Paige Swantek, senior captain of the softball team.
Photo courtesy of LIU Post Athletics

Q: As a senior with a lot of experience, how do the younger players look up to you?

A: As a senior that has been through the program, I know what it is like to be a freshman. I lead by example and show the younger players what our program here at Post is all about. It is not only what is done on the field, but off the field as well. I make sure that the younger players know that I am there for them and will help and support them with whatever they need.

Q: How did you first become interested in playing softball?

A: As a kid, I always loved playing sports as well as watching them on TV. When I was five years old, I started playing tee-ball, and from there on out I continued through little league. In fifth grade, I started playing summer travel ball and fell in love with the game even more.

Q: What’s the strongest asset to your game?

A: I would say the strongest asset to my game is my offense. It has always been my strong point ever since I was young.

Q: How have these spring games helped your team grow and prepare yourselves for conference play?

A: The trip down to Florida is always an awesome way to kick-off our season and also helps build our team’s confidence. Besides just getting to know each other on the field, we bond a lot off the field as well. We also stay in houses, which helps strengthen our team camaraderie and it is very fun.

Q: Do you usually play more at first base or as a designated player? Which position do you enjoy more and why?

A: In my previous years, I spent majority of my time as the team’s designated player. I have worked very hard to try and earn a position on the field, and getting the opportunity to play first base has been incredible. I enjoy every aspect of the game and will embrace whatever it is that I need to do in order to help the team be successful.

Q: What other positions have you played throughout the course of your career? Which proved to be the most difficult for you?

A: My entire softball career I have been a catcher, even entering college. I have been a catcher since I was nine. Being a catcher on the hot summer days in all the gear during travel ball was definitely a lot of work, but I loved it. There were days that I would catch three to four games, and looking back I don’t know how I was able to do that. It’s hard to say what the most difficult position for me is because they each have such different responsibilities and require different skills.

Q: Can you describe the relationship between you, your teammates and your coaching staff, and how those bonds translate into your performance on and off the field?

A: Being a member of the softball team means being a member of a whole new family. As a unit, we treat each other as we would treat our families. We care for each other and are always looking out for one another. Our coaching staff is incredible. They are not just coaches of the game, but they are coaches of life. They have taught me so many lessons both on and off the field. Having a coaching staff that treats the team not only as a team, but as their own family means so much to me, and I know I can speak for the rest of my team as well.

Q: Describe being a four year starter here at Post and what has been your biggest challenge to date.

A: It has been an amazing experience thus far, and I want to finish my softball career with no regrets. I want to give everything I have in order to be the best I can be and have the most successful season as a team that we can possibly have. I would say the biggest challenge to date has to do with classes during the traditional softball season. It’s hard to miss classes, especially because of weather related issues that may change the game schedule around. The professors are very understanding here, but it is still difficult to miss class and have to work on your own and make up what you may have missed. Hearing the professor teach about the subject is a lot different than reading about it and doing extra assignments.

Q: What influenced your decision to come to Post?

A: My goal as a student-athlete was to be a part of something special and an extremely competitive and successful collegiate softball team. I heard many great things about Post. When I visited the school, I fell in love with the campus and I also loved the coaching staff. Post also has great academics which was pivotal for my decision. When I visited Post, I knew it was where I belonged.

Q: You’ve had a lot of success as a Pioneer, but what would you say was your biggest accomplishment so far?

A: My biggest accomplishment by far was attending the Division II Women’s College World Series. It is every softball player’s dream to be able to participate in a World Series, and I am extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity. Making it to the World Series required a 13 inning win over Southern New Hampshire University. Being down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, and ending up winning the game and advancing to the World Series is a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Q: Do you think this year’s team has what it takes to make another run at the NCAA Tournament and Division II World Series?

A: I do not just think this team has what it takes to make the Division II World Series; I know this team has what it takes. We are a unit of 17 girls that grind day in and day out to better ourselves. Whenever we are not practicing, you can find girls on the team putting in extra work to get better. This team has a lot of talent and depth, and I know we have what it takes to make another appearance in the World Series. We have to take things one day at a time, and give 150 percent effort into each and every game we play. In the end, the results will show for themselves. I am looking forward to a great season.

Q: You currently rank third on the team in hits and runs batted in and fifth in batting average and runs scored. You also led the team in homeruns last year. What’s the key to having success at the plate?

A: It’s important to have a positive mindset when entering the batter’s box. We talk about zone hitting here at Post, and I feel that this approach has helped me tremendously in my years here. It is also very important to believe in yourself and your teammates. Softball is a team sport, so being successful is not just because of you doing a good job, but it’s also your teammates who are helping you and giving you the opportunity to excel. Softball is a complete mental game, so being mentally tough is a huge factor when playing this game. A prime example of the craziness of this game is that hall of fame players have averages around .300. This equates to three hits in every ten at bats. This is saying that the most successful players in baseball are only successful three out of every ten times. Crazy, isn’t it?

Q: Who is your favorite athlete and why?

A: My favorite athlete is David Wright. I love watching him play because he has such a great approach to the game. He is always giving every ounce of effort that he has. No matter if he is doing phenomenal or is striking out every at bat, he stays composed and shows no emotions.

Q: Any plans after graduating?

A: My plan is to attend graduate school in the fall for speech-language pathology.

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