In the Locker Room with Ariana Enzerink and Tori Poplaski


Benjamin Shepherd, Photo editor

Junior softball captains Ariana Enzerink (left) and Tori Poplaski

Sarena Malsin, Sports editor

This week, the Review sat down with softball team junior captains Ariana Enzerink and Tori Poplaski, both new additions as of last year, to discuss adjusting to a new team, the importance of team chemistry and their goals for the season.

What has been your favorite part of softball at Oberlin so far?

Ariana Enzerink: I’ve been on the field hockey team also, so I just kind of joined the softball team on a whim because I like to be on a team and to compete and win. I think the best part has been the camaraderie of it. I love my teammates, and I love spend­ing time with them, and it’s such a great group of girls and such a small group too — we’re all pretty close, we all talk, we eat meals to­gether … It’s just really fun. It’s a good atmosphere.

Tori Poplaski: Last year was also my first year here [at Ober­lin] because I’m a transfer stu­dent from University of Roches­ter. I think what makes this team so special is, like Ari said, we all get along, we’re really close, and because we’re so small, that’s so important. I mean, these girls are my best friends, and that’s not al­ways something I’ve had on other teams in the past.

What drew you to the team?

AE: For me, I’ve been playing softball forever. I stopped for a little bit in high school because I was focusing on field hockey, but it’s just kind of part of what [I] do. I was excited to get back, but it was nice to have a break. I think I got a little burned out. But I came here, and I’m used to being in sea­son all the time — I was a three-sport athlete in high school — and, coming to Oberlin, I came off of a great freshman season in field hockey, and then I was like, “What do I do in the spring?” It was such a good decision, and I’m so happy, and so far this season has been re­ally, really fun.

TP: Same with me. I was al­ways a three-sport athlete in high school; it was always softball, all year, all the time. It’s a huge part of my life and who I am, and I couldn’t imagine a college career without it.

Are there any difficulties in­volved in adjusting to a new team?

AE: I think with anything you do where you’re committing a lot of time and people are very pas­sionate about it, there are always going to be complications and dif­ficulties, and I think that’s normal and we’ve been able to get through the adversity we’ve faced really ef­fectively and really well. It’s not al­ways easy, but that’s part of it and kind of what makes it exciting, fun and worthwhile.

TP: With everything you do in life there’s a challenge, and our team has always faced a lot of ad­versity — like, we’ve always had a smaller team than the other pro­grams, so we have had to work harder in those respects and be there for the team and at [our] best all the time, because [as a teammate] you’re always carry­ing your own weight. But I think that with any challenge, it’s defi­nitely worth it, and we come out of it as better people. I think in the past year our team has grown tremendously to overcome those challenges.

What are you excited about for this season?

AE: We have such a great group of girls this year. We’ve only had two practices, but they’re already the most fun I’ve had out of any practice. It feels really good, and we’re all meshing together and working well. I think we just have the right chemistry. We have a group of people where we’re all in­dividuals, we all see things differ­ently, but we do all have the same end goal. We may work a little bit differently to get there, but we all have the same understanding of where everyone comes from and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Getting along on and off the field really helps us work together as teammates.

TP: To that end, our freshmen really add more to the team this year. The other day at practice, our coach called us a “motley crew” — we all have different personalities, but we all love softball and we want to win. We want to make a statement about what it means to be Oberlin softball players and athletes. I actually think that [mentality] is spreading through the whole athletic program.

How’s the new coach?

TP: It’s definitely a transition. She’s the third college coach I’ve had in three years, and it’s always a tough adjustment. It’s something we as teammates have to support each other through. It’s too early to tell how it’s going to go — we’ll see at the end of the season — but so far it’s helped bring us together as a team.

AE: Coaches for both of my teams changed this summer, so there was a lot of uncertainty. It’s just about making the most of the situation.

Anything you’re working on with the team as captains in preseason?

AE: Definitely focus and in­tensity, and maintaining that throughout preseason and going into the season starting off strong. We don’t want to get into a deficit and come back from that.

TP: What Coach did this year is call us her “leadership commit­tee,” which all four of us [juniors] are, because we’re the upperclass­men and there are no seniors on the team this year. I think you have to take on a little bit of a dif­ferent role; you can’t be the one to get upset, you have to be positive and really try to see both sides of the story when players get upset with the coach, or when coaches get upset with how practice is go­ing. You have to be the impartial individual and take yourself out of [the conflict], which can be diffi­cult, and you really try to be a role model on and off the field.

What are you looking to accom­plish this season?

TP: Last year the goal was to make the conference tournament, but then the season got off to a bad start, and it just kind of spi­raled down from there. I think our goal this season is obviously to do better than we did last year, but we shouldn’t be thinking too big picture too early. I think a really good goal for this team is to take one game at a time, one inning at a time, and just try to win ev­ery play, and just put in the most effort [we] can possibly give. And that will build on itself.