Q & A With Two-Sport Athlete Catherine Walker
Senior Catherine Walker is a two-sport athlete at the Coast Guard Academy. She is a starting outside hitter and tri-captain on the volleyball team and a pitcher on the Bears softball team. We had a chance to see how she balances being a two-sport athlete as well as an outstanding student who has a 3.4 GPA as a Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering major.
How did you become interested in the Coast Guard Academy?
I heard about the Coast Guard Academy my junior year of high school. My dad found out about the AIM program, and knowing I was interested in engineering, thought it would be a good experience for me. I applied and was accepted, and while I was very unprepared for what the week had in store for me, I learned a lot about the Coast Guard and the Academy and I decided I didn't really want to go anywhere else for college, because I decided I wanted to be an officer in the US Coast Guard.
What was your reaction to being named a team captain?
I was very humbled to be named one of the three team captains this year. We have a tremendous group of girls this year and it is a great honor to have been chosen to be there for my teammates with Sam and Karen.
It is hard enough to be a two-sport athlete in college, but especially at the Coast Guard Academy where you don't have much free time. What has been your biggest challenge in balancing athletics with your academics and military obligations?
My biggest challenge throughout trying to balance all of my time here is definitely getting a healthy amount of sleep. I am usually up pretty late every night with homework that doesn't get started until after practice.
Tell us about your most memorable moment as a Coast Guard volleyball player?
My most memorable moment was winning the NEWMAC tournament against Springfield College at Springfield after they had beaten us in the regular season. It was incredible knowing that all our preparation paid off and we received an automatic bid to go to the NCAA Regionals at NYU.
You were a backup pitcher for the past few years behind one of the best pitchers in Division III history in Hayley Feindel. Was it hard to not get as much playing time as you would have liked?
Not at all. I look up to Hayley so much as a person, and as a softball player. All I could hope was to have even a small amount of her talent rub off on me somehow. I couldn't have asked for a better person to play behind or learn from.
Last year, Hayley got hurt and you made the most of your opportunity stepping in and posting seven wins for the team. Talk about the challenges of becoming the everyday pitcher in the middle of the season.
I honestly was unprepared for what happened when Hayley was injured. Mentally, it was tough to begin each game with the same confidence in myself as I had in Hayley, but I was even less prepared physically. The biggest challenge was being conditioned to relieve for a few innings, and then having to pitch sometimes up to 14 innings per day. My teammates would help so much when we could score enough to mercy a team in five innings. I also don't know what I would have done without our athletic trainer, Sara, because without her, the second game of the double headers would have been even harder.
What has been your most memorable summer assignment and why?
My most memorable summer assignment was 1/c Summer, this past one. I spent the first half working with Sector Long Island Sound. The first two weeks there, I learned a lot about the commercial shipping industry through the Marine Shiprider Program for which I was with Cross Sound Ferries, out of downtown New London. The next three weeks were spent going on different Marine inspections.
The second half of the summer, I had an internship at the Marine Safety Center in Washington D.C., which is a payback tour for many O-3s after Naval Architecture graduate school. I had a week of training there, learning about how salvage engineering response is practiced in the real world, and then spent the rest of the internship completing a project in ship structures.
It was really cool to see that everything I have learned in my engineering classes throughout my time here has paid off, and can actually be used in the fleet after graduation.
Where would you like to be stationed next year?
After learning all about the Prevention side of the Coast Guard this summer, I am hoping to go to a Sector in the Carolinas or California to be trained as a Marine Inspector.