Prior to college, she would have laughed.
If anyone would have told Sarah Chow, she’d be batting left, starting in the outfield, hitting over a .400 average and setting team records, the then 18-year-old recruit heading to Utah State on a softball scholarship, wouldn’t have believed you. Turns out, she’d be wrong.
“I started out as a pitcher,” the View Royal resident said. “It’s crazy to see the freshmen I walked in as and the senior I walked out as. I never thought I would break records at all.”
From the age of four, the West Shore resident played ball, some of it with the Victoria Devils before the scholarship took her to the college town of Logan to work on a degree in family life studies and an opportunity to play for the Aggies.
Right out of high school graduation, her whole life changed, not only as a softball player, but as a person.
“The hardest thing was being away from my family, I was living on my own and cooking on my own… It was a culture shock as well,” she said. “It’s crazy because down there, they have super competitive softball… It was pretty eye opening to see the different calibre of play. You really have to fight for your spot to play and keep your scholarship.”
Amid those trials, the entire Aggies softball program faced its own challenges, the result of over a decade of consecutive losing seasons. Chow’s first season in Utah State saw the team finish with 11 victories and 43 losses. It wasn’t until a new coach, Steven Johnson arrived, that the program began to turn around.
“When she was a freshman they started the season 0-20 they did not have a history of doing well, so it took time. It took time to learn how to win, win close games,” Johnson said.
Over the next season, Johnson flipped Chow around to the opposite side of the batters box, putting her that much closer to first base and taking advantage of her speed. He also dropped her into the outfield to utilize her range running down fly balls. Her next two years ended with setting team records for most triples in a game, most triples in a season, longest game hitting streak, longest game reached base streak, most assists in a game as a short stop, and tying the mark for most hits in a game.
By the time Chow was aging out of the program as a senior, a group of students, coaches and staff that started out as strangers from different cities helped turn in a winning season.
“This was the first winning season in 20 years and the seniors were a big part of that. From day one they decided they wanted to leave a legacy,” Johnson said. “(They) did a lot to build this program that helped us win a lot more. She was a big part of that being a part of the senior class and leading by example.”
Following a rewarding four-year stint in the United States, Chow returned to the West Shore and continues here journey saying she will be coaching the up-and-coming generation of softball players as they progress through some of the opportunities she benefitted from.
She hopes to pass on some of the lessons she learned in Utah, including one her coach left with her after graduation.
“My coach said all he wanted me to leave college with was confidence, he always saw so much potential, he saw what I didn’t see in myself. When I left he gave me a huge hug and said he can’t believe how much I changed as a person,” Chow said. “I hopefully can give back to help the people who helped me and give back to girls who want to get to the next level as well.”