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Softball part of college 'adventure'
By Torie McCray

During an early season game in Arizona, Mallissa “Sass” Van Rooyen started her Calvin softball career on the wrong foot. Van Rooyen broke her thumb on a pop fly, hanging on long enough to make the out. That didn’t stop her from leading off at bat the following inning with a double over the fence. Unfortunately, she was out for most of the rest of the season.

Injury absence aside, Van Rooyen has been a starter for the Knights since the beginning. As a senior co-captain of the team, she relates to the team she’s leaving behind after graduation.

“You’re so used to playing with them,” said Van Rooyen. “You get new girls every year. It can take a big toll on you because you become really good friends.” Van Rooyen’s passion for softball started in the backyard with a blue, wooden bat while her dad pitched.

“I would always play in the backyard with my dad,” said Van Rooyen. “One day Dad said, ‘Do you want to play in Little League?’ I said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to do that. That’s scary’!”

All fear aside, Van Rooyen soon joined a Little League softball team, and eventually moved on to travel softball. Since Van Rooyen’s high school didn’t have a softball team, she continued to play travel softball throughout her high school career.

“I had a very small school, so it was normal that we didn’t have [a team], because not a lot of people played softball at my school,” said Van Rooyen. “The travel team was where I got a lot of my experience. It was great, I loved it.”

Van Rooyen’s college experience has been “an adventure.” A newlywed, college athlete and a fulltime student, she said one of the most applicable skills she’s learned is time management.“I think with any collegiate varsity team you learn to plan your time well,” said Van Rooyen. “It’s hard. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work.”

Van Rooyen lives up to that hard-working standard. She was a member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll last year. She graduated with a business major, with a small business concentration.

In the future, Van Rooyen sees herself owning her own floral business. She plans to attend a six-week program at the Boerma Instituut in the Netherlands to get her floral diploma when the timing is right.

You wouldn’t catch Van Rooyen making a bouquet of dandelions in the outfield though. As a junior, Van Rooyen shined in the outfield with a .966 fielding percentage, committing only one error in 29 fielding chances. That same year she batted .379 (second on the team) with 12 RBIs and two home runs.

Van Rooyen also hit one home run her sophomore season and two home runs her senior season. Van Rooyen’s work ethic shows, especially to her teammates. As co-captain of the team, Van Rooyen said she is not a vocal leader but prefers leading by example.

“I work hard, and I’m always working hard,” said Van Rooyen. “I’m not out there to say, ‘Run fast, do this or do that.’ I just can’t do that.” The softball team had its ups and downs over that last few years, but that doesn’t taint Van Rooyen’s experience.

“My experience has been great. Even though we weren’t up there (in the league standings), yet I really feel as though when the sophomores and the freshmen now, when they become the juniors and seniors, they’re going to be a solid team if they stick with it. I believe that fully.”

Van Rooyen plans to move back to her hometown of Beamsville, Ont., with her husband and recent Calvin graduate Tim Swinkles.