By Tony Hooker
Kaylee Arbuckle hadn’t really considered playing college ball. That is until assistant coach Floyd Fisher got involved. With his and the rest of the staff’s involvement and the exchange of some game film, Arbuckle soon found herself the focus of a recruiting pitch from Lincoln Land Community College coach Ryan Hickman. After a whirlwind courtship, she then found herself signing a letter of intent to play for the Loggers next year. I recently caught up with the outfielder to see how it all transpired.
How did you come to be playing for Lincoln Land?
Floyd (Coach Fisher) asked me if I wanted to play in college, and to be honest I wasn’t really sure because it seems pretty intimidating with all those athletes that are better than me out there. I wasn’t sure and then we went on a visit on Thursday, after Coach Hickman had seen a video of me. He showed me around and then he decided to offer me a full ride. At first, I was going to be a walk-on but at the end of my visit he sat me down and offered me a ride.
What are you going to study?
I want to be a PE teacher, and maybe study some special ed stuff, also.
What are you going to miss about your high school days?
Nothing, really! <laughs>
Has softball always been your favorite or is it basketball?
They’re really kind of equal, really. I like both.
It’s been a really rough year for you. Without going too dark, do you think that losing your father (Scott Arbuckle) motivated you to keep playing?
Softball was the main sport that we did together. We would go to the park, and he would catch fly balls when I was hitting from a Tee. He used to pitch to me.
He was a big, strong dude. Could he bring the heat when he was pitching to you?
No, he wasn’t a very good underhand pitcher! <laughs>
Her high school coach, Jeana Block, was also quick to praise her dad for her development. “Most of our team plays travel ball at some level. Kaylee never did that. All of her extra work came from the countless hours they put in together,” Block said.
What do you think you need to work on the most before you get to college ball?
I would probably say confidence, mostly, since I don’t have any of that. Mostly the mental aspect.
Again, coach Block is in agreement. “Kaylee is a natural athlete and has a great work ethic, but her biggest obstacle is herself. She is quick to get down on herself and shut down,” Block stated.
What is your biggest strength? What are you bringing to the table? What position do you play?
I’m not really sure! I play mostly outfield, but I can play third base. On the other hand, her coach saw her defense as the strength of her game. “She can read a fly ball, has a great arm and after putting in lots of work has become one of our better hitters,” Block said. “She’s a hard-working athlete who always gives you 100 percent.”
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I really hope I can teach at Villa Grove. That would be fun.