Skip to main content

This story originally appeared in Onward: John Carroll Alumni Magazine, which was mailed in early November. 

Read the full version of Onward.

The life of a Division III student athlete can be chaotic. To succeed at a high level, an athlete needs to balance their work on and off the field. Between the papers and exams, there’s practice, travel, and actual games to worry about.

And, if you play softball like Jenn Patterson ’20, there are often variables you can’t control, like the weather. How does Patterson figure it all out? With one simple rule.

“I never go anywhere without my planner,” she laughs. “Every part of my day is in there — what I need to do, where I need to be. I never plan anything before checking out what my priorities are. It helps keep me on track.”

Patterson needs that level of organization; as she enters her senior year, she boasts a schedule that would cause most students stress. In addition to her leadership role as a pitcher for the softball team, Patterson is the president of the Student-Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC), which helps advocate for fellow athletes and plan professional development and service events. She is the vice president of the Boler Business Leadership Society, and works as a leadership coach for Boler and as a peer advisor for Center for Career Services. Despite her level of involvement, Patterson still finds the time to excel in the classroom. She recorded higher than a 3.5 GPA in the spring semester, earning her Academic All-OAC honors. 

“She has impressed me with how many things she takes on and how well she balances it all,” says softball head coach Nicole Loudin. Patterson’s JCU journey began as her time at Marysville (Ohio) High School came to an end. When Patterson visited campus, she fell in love.

It was the campus and environment. I knew that I could get a good education that aligned with my personal values. And the opportunity to continue playing softball was too good to pass up.

Her pitching coach, Bruce Anderson, had recently joined the John Carroll coaching staff. Anderson introduced her to Loudin, and she quickly felt comfortable with her future as a Blue Streak.

Before coming to JCU, she changed her career path; initially, Patterson was set to be a chemistry major en route to dental school. She quickly found a passion for leadership, moving to the Boler College of Business as a human resources and management major with a double minor in data science and leadership. “My professors have been so supportive throughout my time at JCU,” she says. “They’re accommodating of different schedule changes. They congratulate you when you do well and they care about your success as a student and athlete.”

Organization and commitment are crucial traits for any successful Blue Streaks student athlete. One spring storm can wipe out a week of carefully balanced planning. “Time management is key because you have to find a balance between school and softball,” says Patterson. “School is the number one priority, so it’s important to understand the assignments I’m given and compare them to my softball schedule. Softball can be chaotic. You could be scheduled for three sets of games in a week, play none, and then have to play two days in a row.” 

In her free time, Patterson tries to spend as much time on campus as possible, listening to podcasts and reading out on the quad. Next up for her is a senior season, followed by a career search. She intends to pursue her MBA at John Carroll, and is open to whatever the future holds. 

"Softball has been great,” she says. “It’s where I met my best friends, where I found women who have the same enthusiasm. It's been everything I expected and more. Eventually, I’ll be looking for opportunities in talent management or higher education."

I feel like it was yesterday when I walked into my freshman year. People always say it flies by, but when you're living through it you truly understand that. I couldn’t be more thankful for my time here.