Big 12 Campus Correspondent
It took Heidi Foland's mom a bit to adjust to the idea of her daughter playing college softball at Nebraska. Doreen Foland had nothing against Nebraska and fully supported her daughter's athletic efforts, but everyone had always planned on her daughter
playing college basketball at the Division-ll level.
The decision wasn't easy, but as a native of Grand Island, Neb., Foland knew she couldn't pass up playing for her home state.
"Being from Nebraska and having the opportunity to play at Nebraska no matter what sport is something pretty huge," Foland said. "Through my decision of playing basketball or softball I did a lot of praying and I was really stressed about it because I know everyone from Grand Island was planning on me going with basketball. They wanted me to, even my family. It took my mom like a year to get over it. I just decided through prayer and following my heart."
It turned out that following her heart was the right decision. From uncertainty to consistency, Foland is now a veteran leader on the Nebraska softball team. She has started more than 150 career games entering her final season with NU, a season that she does not take lightly.
"There are only a few months left for me to do anything and accomplish anything," Foland said. "I think being a senior is just having that fun mentality and really going out there and not letting the little things annoy you."
The road for Foland has not been an easy one. As a freshman she started 52 games and continued to adjust to the college game in her sophomore campaign, until she produced a breakout season as a junior. One of only two Huskers to start every game, Foland made the switch to first base in 2010. She started 48 games at first, six games at second and five games at third. She finished with a career-best .310 average and produced career-high totals across the board, surpassing her two-year career totals in almost every category.
"Freshman year went ok and then sophomore year there was a big downhill swing," Foland said. "I really had to work on my mental strength, my emotions and really figuring out who I am as a person. After my junior year I felt like I was getting a lot more confident in what I could do on the field. I think between that summer and my junior year I grew as a person and grew a lot mentally. Now I am just carrying that into my senior year."
Among her list of accomplishments, including being named the softball team's "lifter of the year"; Foland has earned starts at first base, second base, third base and shortstop over the course of her career. She is returning to her freshman and sophomore role as Nebraska's starting third baseman in her senior season, but she could also see time at shortstop. The Huskers' top power hitter, she homered 13 times as a junior, a total that tied for sixth in school history.
Her role as a utility player in the infield is one that gives Foland a little extra pride.
"It's kind of cool," Foland said. "I just like whatever position I am playing at the moment, that is most important."
A leader in the classroom, she is also a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First-Team selection. She is a nutrition, exercise and health science major at Nebraska and has been a six-time honoree on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Despite the accolades and expectations, Foland stays levelheaded and focused on the task at hand. She is hoping to lead the Huskers deep into the postseason and she knows that the only way to achieve that goal is to reach her daily goals.
"My main day-to-day goals are what will get me (to that point)," Foland said. "That's being consistent with my mentality, my attitude and my emotions, not having an up and down playing level."
Only a well-seasoned player speaks with the ease the Foland does. She's been through the ups and downs and knows what it takes to succeed. She knows the daily challenges can be overcome with the help of teammates and coaches and that the little things are what motivate her each day.
"Just loving my teammates motivates me, in addition to wanting to be there for them and having a Christ-like mentality every day," Foland said. "That motivates me to really focus on why I'm here and how I'm able to play."