Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Last week, Traci Howell graduated from Cane Bay High School with her classmates in the Class of 2014.
Walking down the aisle at the North Charleston Coliseum, Howell had a few moments to reflect on the end of her high school career and the beginning of her collegiate softball career this fall with North Greenville University.
Howell enjoyed a stellar six-year career as a member of the Lady Cobras softball team, starting every game at shortstop since joining the varsity as a seventh grader.
There aren’t many softball players in the area that can make that claim.
It is a bittersweet time for Howell as she transitions from high school senior to college freshman, but she’s excited about the future.
“My high school career has helped me grow into the athlete that I am today,” Howell said. “I am more than ready to further my experience in the next level at North Greenville.”
Howell won’t be satisfied with simply holding her own as a college freshman, she wants to be an impact player.
“I have huge dreams for my future that I have been striving for since the day I threw my first baseball. Dreams such as breaking records as a college freshman, dreams that are worth working to make come true.”
Howell has done this before when she first stepped onto the Cane Bay softball fields six years ago as a seventh grader. The Class AAAA All-State selection made an impact then. In fact, she set the standard as to what makes a Lady Cobra softball player.
“Starting my career at Cane Bay as a seventh grader was an indescribable feeling. Making varsity was a really big deal, but what made it even better was becoming a starter. Starting every game since the seventh grade was something that I worked extremely hard for. Not a day, practice, or game went by that I didn’t give this game all I had.”
Howell set an example for her teammates to follow through her work ethic both in practice and during games.
“I gave my team every part of me whether on or off the field,” she said. “My team and our success has always been my number one priority in why I work as hard as I do.”
Over the course of the last six years, each season had its own memorable moments for the graduating shortstop, but two specific moments stand out in Howell’s mind.
“The two main memories that stand out to me would be when we made playoffs for the very first time and then beating Wando for the first time in six years, the first time in Cane Bay softball history,” she said. “Not only were both of those games conference wins, but one game just happened to fall on senior night.”
Beating Wando, Howell said, was like writing a movie script. “I couldn’t have asked for a better night,” she said.
Howell believes the best part of her game is her work ethic and her internal drive to be the best player possible.
“It’s about having the heart for the game,” she said. “Physical abilities can be tweaked and improved throughout anyone’s career, but heart and dedication cannot be taught.
“I feel like those were the key skills that I brought to the Lady Cobras over the last six years.”
As any outstanding player knows, her work is never done.
“I plan to further both my mental and physical game to better myself as an athlete and become stronger for North Greenville,” said Howell, who will play travel softball this summer for the 18-Under South Carolina Hurricanes. “It all starts from within. It’s now or never.”
Howell will also represent the 4A/1A South All-star team this summer during the 2014 South Carolina Coaches Association For Women’s Sports North-South All-star series.