At the age of 5, UCF student Alexandra Rozanski’s parents started having their daughter try out different sports as an introduction into the world of athletics.
Though she tried everything from gymnastics to soccer, only one sport grabbed her attention and kept it — softball.
“I fell in love with the game ever since I tried it," Rozanski said.
Rozanski, junior psychology major on the clinical track, has been playing the game for the last 15 years and served as president of Club Softball at UCF for the 2018-2019 season. She will continue leading the team into its next season as well.
Rozanksi said taking over the position was a spur-of-the-moment decision made at a banquet celebrating the end of the 2017-2018 season. With the club's former president leaving her role and no one else offering to step in, Rozanski volunteered to lead the team and went unopposed.
She said she took over the team as it was coming off a rough patch trying to secure funding in the 2017-2018 season from sponsorships, donations and players dues. For additional financial support, the softball club members attended the Sport Clubs Council’s budget hearing before the start of the season to receive funding to keep the club alive. Under her leadership, Rozanski said the team has been able to get more money from the Sport Clubs Council during the 2018-2019 season than in previous years.
Rozanski said she took on the challenge of serving as president with the support of her teammates.
“I had the support of my current officers and friends," she said. "We vowed to take this commitment on as a team and help each other out since we did not want to see this club disappear since I know there are so many students out there who want to play club softball."
Rozanski said the softball club's 14 players won five out of 10 games during this year's season, which ended in March.
The team plays other schools within the South Atlantic-South Conference and competes against schools outside of its conference, like the University of South Florida, for scrimmages.
“I like how I have the chance to travel all over the state of Florida to play against other club teams like Florida State University, University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Stetson University," Rozanski said. "I also like that I can still play softball in college but with much less commitment than if I were to play in the NCAA divisions."
Rozanski said her favorite memory from this past season was a Feb. 10 game against UF when she pitched all seven innings and hit a triple, helping UCF beat UF 10-3. After that game, UF's club softball team went on to be the number one team in its conference with its only loss of the season being against UCF.
“I feel that is quite an accomplishment not only for me, but [for] my team,” Rozanski said. “I have made some of my best friends from playing club softball. Softball has always brought me amazing friendships.”
Rozanski said she believes team bonding is very important for fostering a successful season and developing strong relationships between players. Each semester, Club Softball at UCF does group activities like going out to eat together to help the season go well and celebrate successes, she said.
"I've been on so many teams in the past, [and] it's very crucial for everyone to get along and to have on-the-field and off-field chemistry," Rozanski said.
Rozanski's teammates also agree the club has brought them closer together and formed many friendships.
“I would definitely say I'm close with all my teammates," said pitcher Kaylyn Carson, junior statistics and actuarial science double major. "Some girls are closer than others, but I feel comfortable enough where I can talk to everyone on the team about anything."
Carson, who has been playing softball for 12 years, said the club has given her an outlet to relax, have fun and forget about the stress of having two majors for a couple of hours a week.
Emily Frey, outfielder and first baseman, said the softball club has provided her with an opportunity she didn't think she'd have — to continue playing softball at a collegiate level. Frey is now the vice president of the club and works alongside Rozanski to keep the team going.
“I love playing for UCF because I get to stay involved in sports," Frey, junior criminal justice major, said. "I was worried when I came to college that I would not be able to play sports anymore, but sport clubs gave me the opportunity."
Frey and Rozanski said they have grown closer over the past year by both being on the executive board for the softball club.
“My favorite thing about playing softball for UCF is being able to hang out with my friends," Frey said. "My softball friends were my first group of friends when I came to college, so it is nice to still have them around. They helped me in the transition from moving out of my house and to Orlando."
Rozanski said while her leadership position has brought increased responsibility and the occasional difficult conversations, she continues to cherish the opportunity to lead her teammates and spread passion for the game.
“There are always pros and cons to being a leader of the team," she said. "It is definitely hard at moments when I have to be stern with players or discuss money since dues are required, but I get the satisfaction knowing they are out here continuing the sport they love and creating new friendships. I am very excited for our 2019-2020 season. We are looking to go as far as we can — to regionals and the World Series."
Rozanski said she has plans to further promote Club Softball at UCF by continuing to post on the team's Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as by making a website for the group.
"Sometimes it can be overwhelming balancing work, school, my softball schedule and my officer position on the team," Rozanski said. "However, I feel like I operate and manage my time better when I have a full plate."
Rozanski said after college she hopes to one day coach a team of her own.
"We definitely have a good foundation now to go off of for next year," Rozanski said. "I am really excited to go into this next year because I know a lot more now. I hope we can go far next season."