Jodie Duncan, a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, has gained many lessons from her years as an athlete. As a sport business major, she plans to graduate next spring and use her talents to impact the world of youth sports and pass some of what she’s learned to the next generation of athletes.
“Before I got (to UT Martin), I thought I wanted to work for the Memphis Grizzlies or somewhere big like that, but as the years go on, I’ve become more attracted to youth sports and wanting to help the next generation of athletes. There are so many life lessons you learn through sports, so I want to be a part of that when I leave here,” she said.
Duncan, a Munford native, grew up playing baseball, softball, basketball and volleyball. At age eight, she switched from baseball to softball and has been hooked on the sport ever since.
“It started out just as time to spend with my father, but as I got older I realized I do have some talent, and it just developed from there,” she said. Duncan was recruited to the Skyhawk softball team while playing high school travel ball in Tipton County, and she now plays at third base.
Being a student-athlete at the college level requires dedication and perseverance, both on and off the field. Duncan works hard to balance her time as an athlete and the demands of her academic life, which is especially difficult when the team is on the road. However, Duncan has learned it is possible to do it all with the right amount of personal discipline.
“I think one of the biggest things I learned as a freshman is that there is enough time in the day to do everything you need to get done; it’s just about making time. There are some days when I can’t get on social media or relax after my shower; I have to go straight to the books,” she said.
Duncan feels young athletes can learn more from the nature of softball than just time-management skills, however. She says the value of teamwork and the reality of failure are two important lessons the next generation can learn from the sport.
“To get things done, you have to work with people; you’re not working against them. Softball is a team sport played by individuals, and sometimes you get caught competing with someone for a position, but at the end of the day you’re all working toward the same goal. My other third baseman, we push each other every day to become better, and every day we get better and, with that, the team gets better,” she said. “Something kids can learn from softball and baseball specifically is that an all-American (athlete) only gets things right three out of 10 times. So seven out of 10 times you’re failing. I think that’s a big thing to teach kids that you’re going to fail in life, but it’s how you recover from that and how you learn from those failures that makes you better for the next go-round.”
Duncan saw action is 53 games and started in 47 contests during the 2016 season.
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