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Softball, especially at the high school level, can be a grueling challenge.
For recently graduated Central High Lady Broncho Christa Sparks, challenges were just something she became used to overcoming.
As she prepares to begin her new challenge of navigating through college at Cameron University as an early childhood major, Sparks said she will always remember her time as a member of the Lady Bronchos softball team.
“I’ve never had a stronger bond and love for a team like I do the Lady Bronchos,” she said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them and the game of softball in general. We might not have made it to the state tournament, but we committed ourselves to working towards goals together and achieving them as a team. Playing for Coach (Chad) and Chasity Weldon was a blessing for me. I could never thank them enough for what they did for me, and they always do so much for the Lady Bronchos.”
While Sparks was known for her trademark blue rag and multiple strikeouts on the field, off the field is where the softball standout made a name for herself in the classroom.
Christa, along with six others, including her brother Jarrett, were named as Valedictorians for the Central High Class of 2013, an honor Christa says was extra special considering she got to share it with her brother.
“Jarrett and I are very close and always have been,” Christa said. “We’d always compete to see who could make the best grades every year. I’m very proud of him and it was incredible getting to share that honor with him. It was a special moment I’ll never forget.”
Christa added she feels proud to be remembered not just for her athletic contributions, but her academic achievements as well.
“School and sports were always very important to me.” she said. “The day I graduated, I wanted to look back with no regrets and know that I gave my best effort. I never wanted to settle for an A, I always wanted to strive for an A+.”
While they might have been fierce competitors in the classroom, Christa and her siblings including younger sister Kylee were more than supportive of her on the field, cheering her on during her time in softball.
“Kylee would always tell me to not be so hard on myself after games,” Christa said. “No matter the outcome she would always tell me how good I did. Jarrett on the other hand always joked with me about what I did during the game. Eventually though he would throw on a smile and tell me how good I played out there. We’ve all grown up playing sports and they’re both outstanding athletes who I’m so proud of.”
Even though she had a solid first two years under head coach Chad Weldon as a Lady Broncho, it was Christa’s junior and senior year which gained her recognition as a back-to back winner of the Duncan Banner All-Area Pitcher of the Year award.
In 2011, the Lady Broncho pitcher finished the season with an overall record of 21-6, with a 1.47 ERA. She also totaled 135 strikeouts to just 19 walks.
During her senior season, Christa garnered an overall record of 24-8, with a 2.21 ERA to go with 146 strikeouts.
“Winning pitcher of the year the first time was a shock to me,” Christa said. “I knew I wasn’t the best pitcher in the world, but I gave it my all everytime I stepped on the mound. I was speechless and honored when I won for a second time. During the summer I had worked so hard to be ready. These awards wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my parents, teammates and my coaches.”
Christa added she’s excited to start her new journey, but will keep a close watch on her sister’s progress in softball.
“I’m ready to start my journey towards a degree so I can become a teacher and a coach,” she said. “I’ll get to see Kylee play softball, and be around my friends and family on a daily basis. I’m very thankful because I wouldn’t be the person I am without God, my incredible family and my amazing friends, coaches, teachers and teammates.”