Over the course of the last year, Paige Scott – like many who’ve been forced to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic – has become used to new things.
A new way of learning as schools moved online; and not only a new softball team, but one with brand-new, unfamiliar teammates in an entirely different country.
Which is why, when she officially accepted a scholarship offer from Alabama A&M University – an NCAA Div. 1 school whose campus she’d never even set foot on – she didn’t flinch.
“It won’t bother me at all. I’m used to it – I’ve travelled a lot and I love it,” said Scott, who pitches and plays first base.
Huntsville, Ala. will be the latest stop in something of a frantic last few months for the Semiahmoo Peninsula resident, who is set to graduate this spring from Elgin Park Secondary. Last spring, Scott – who was playing for the Ridge Meadows Pride ’03A fastpitch team at the time – was left sidelined, as were athletes across the province, when the pandemic hit and sports were shuttered.
A second team she’d been playing on, based in Washington, was also not an option due to the border closure – a point which soon became moot when the state shut all sports down, too, as cases there skyrocketed.
But rather than give up, Scott – who said it’s been her dream to play NCAA Div. 1 softball for years – was undaunted, and by summertime her family had started investigating other options in the U.S. where games were being played. Eventually, Scott found an elite team in San Diego that was in need of a pitcher, and she, and her family, headed south.
With many employees working remotely, and school at the time online, the move was workable, even if the commute to and from the ballpark wasn’t ideal.
“My family has a house in Palm Springs so we stayed there. It was a two-hour drive to practice, but it worked,” she explained.
“And with school online, that worked out perfectly.”
Scott and her family stayed in Southern California for about four months, and returned home to Canada in December, around the same time Scott signed her scholarship agreement; she’d verbally committed to the school in mid-November.
Because she had been unable to make an official visit to check out the campus or meet with coaches in person, Scott said she relied on the advice of one of her new San Diego teammates who had also committed to the school.
“She’d been there on a visit, so I just talked to her about it and it seemed like it would be a good fit,” she said, adding that she also had Zoom calls with members of the softball team’s coaching staff.
Obtaining an NCAA scholarship is a challenge at the best of times, and with COVID-19 having thrown a wrench into the recruiting plans, Scott said she mostly felt relief when it was all over.
“To be honest, I just wanted the process to be over. It was nice to get it (out of the way), definitely,” she said.
“It was a lot. I always knew I belonged in Div. 1 softball, but I just didn’t know when it was going to happen or how. But I’m so glad I signed. It’s a good school, and I wanted to go to a smaller university, too, so that’s a reason I chose it.”
While she won’t report to Alabama until mid-August – unless provincials or national championships get in the way, should they go ahead – Scott will spend the rest of the spring and summer practising and playing with the Delta Heat association, where she now plays. As well, her San Diego team has a busy summer schedule, and Scott knows at some point she’ll have to decide whether or not to head back to California before heading to school.
“It’s tough because the border isn’t open, so I can’t go back and forth (between teams),” she said.
“But I’ll be playing somewhere.”