Athletics, higher academics and a career — most people take on these challenges one at a time. If a student is especially committed, he or she might be able to take on two of these tasks at once. But three? Now that’s the ultimate juggling act.
Graduate student-athlete Ellen Radandt has put herself in the very difficult position of balancing all three of these commitments. All spring, she has been and will continue to race from school to her job to the softball diamond. Calling it “busy” would only scratch the surface of her lifestyle.
Four years ago, as a freshman, Radandt felt pain shoot through her leg as she tore her ACL. Because the ACL is located deep within the knee joint, it is one of the worst injuries for a catcher like Radandt who is constantly in a crouched position.
Even so, Radandt attempted to play through the injury during her sophomore year after having it surgically repaired. The problem was that she only waited half the recommended amount of time before attempting to play again. This only made the injury worse.
After sitting out all of junior year in order to let the ACL fully heal, Radandt returned to the field last season and quickly regained her form and was honored as a member of the All-CCIW First Team. She batted .323 with a .374 on-base percentage and led the team with eight home runs.
As the season began drawing to a close, Radandt and her coaches joked about the fact that she should come back and stay on the team for one more year. The longer the jokes persisted, the more Radandt thought about actually staying one more year.
When Radandt graduated last May from Wheaton College with an undergraduate degree in business and economics, she had not come to a decision about her future. Later, she would eventually decide to continue her education by obtaining a master’s degree in evangelism and leadership. It just so happened that this is one of the programs that Wheaton’s master’s program offers.
Radandt at bat at a game earlier this season. Photo credit Andrew Graber.
Her coaches were overjoyed when Radandt announced that she would be returning to the school for her fourth season. She also took a job at a nearby accounting firm called Cedar Stone Partners.
“It’s given me the flexibility to start my career and get a job in the field that I want to be in,” Radandt explained. “Accounting has always been something I was interested in … It’s been nice to go to school and pursue a higher education while starting work in the world.”
Radandt understands that staying at Wheaton beyond four years may not be an enjoyable option for everyone. For her, it has been a quintessential dream scenario as she has been able to work, study and play, all at once.
But was there any hesitation or regret in staying at a school from which her classmates had already graduated and moved on?
Radandt doesn’t hesitate for a second: The answer is no. The chance to play one final year of softball was a no-brainer for her.
“I’m very satisfied,” she said. “Softball makes my life more exciting and fulfilling to be a part of a team.”
In fact, the hardest challenge she’s had to face was not any of the pitchers she stared down on the softball field. Rather, her “speed bumps,” so to speak, have occurred within the classroom.
“The hardest part has been the intensive class schedule and preparing for those because it takes so much time, even though you’re only in school for three days a week,” she said. “You have to read so much beforehand and then write about it and reflect on it before you even get to class, which can make it a lot more challenging.”
It’s all worth it for Radandt, as she continues to build her portfolio. Even though she is not sure what she might want to do after graduate school, being able to bring an evangelism and leadership graduate degree into the business world in a year or so will be “different than (what’s) expected” from most business majors. Coupled with her work experience, this could open up a world of potential opportunities.
Despite the craziness of her graduate school schedule, Radandt still finds ways to prioritize softball in her life and take advantage of every last second she has on the softball diamond.
“Softball has been my lifelong passion and I’ve always loved it,” she explained. “It was such a great opportunity to play with the now-senior class and to get to be a part of building a program to a higher standard.”
The softball program is not the only thing that has risen to a higher standard this year. With her play, work ethic and studying determination, Radandt is raising the bar and showing what it truly means to live a lifestyle of simultaneous busyness and bliss.