For those of you who have seen her play, you know Janine Sprague is one fiery, intense and severely concentrated softball player. Every step, every at bat, every fly ball is the most important play in her softball career. From Hillsborough, N.C., Sprague has already amassed both school and conference honors as well as numerous records on the Lady Bucs all-time charts.
In a season where the Lady Bucs posted a 29-34 record in 2003-2004, Sprague led the team in almost every offensive statistical category while posting solid defensive numbers from the field. Her .348 batting average ranks best in ETSU history while her 70 hits, including team leading tallies of 18 doubles and six triples ranks her first all-time as well. Sprague stole three bases for the year also managing a .557 slugging percentage (first all-time) while shattering the total bases record with her mark of 112 for the year. Her 40 putouts and seven assists compared to just one error on the year gave Janine one of the top defensive marks on the team with a .979 fielding average.
Already making marks on the ETSU all-time record books, Sprague is just a junior heading into the 2004-2005 season and has plans of being recognized as a team leader for the upcoming year.
"I definitely want to step up and become a leader for this team. We have incoming freshman who will look up to the older veteran players," Sprague said. "I did a lot of hitting over the summer heading into the year and coached a U-14 Softball team as well. I'm really working on improving my all around game, making sure I am always better than the year before."
As with any college athlete, their respective sport plays a huge role in their daily life. For Janine, softball was always one of her top priorities.
"I can't imagine not having softball in my life. When I'm not on the field I go and watch softball, it's what keeps me busy. Softball always held a special spot in my life, I knew it was the only way I could pay for college so I worked very hard throughout my career to compete and get better."
When asked how long softball has been a part of her everyday life, Sprague had the start that many young female athletes have, playing with the boys.
"I started playing baseball when I was four and played until I started softball when I turned 12. Honestly I've been playing for as long as I can remember. I love to fix and create things, that is probably why I want to make furniture design my career."
Most incoming freshman choose a major that has numerous options to choose from after graduation. Janine Sprague had another idea in mind, her college major - furniture design.
"I've been designing furniture since I was nine. I was that kid that would rather have a set of Linkin Logs rather than dolls. My high school had a very good cabinet and furniture design class with an excellent shop teacher, Mr. Keith Yow. It was something I liked to do so I joined the class as one of two females in the entire program at the time," Sprague said. "Like a coach he expected perfection out of his students along with building their own styles of creativity. I could just focus on that everyday, it was my outlet to relieve stress. I had a teacher tell me once ‘find something you like doing and make as much money as you can doing it,' so that is what I plan to do."
With a design style that is constantly changing in our society, Sprague plans on applying her own creativity and style to her furniture.
"I want to design things that aren't traditional. Items and styles that you don't see at an every day store - furniture that you would want to buy because the style is unique. I love designing kid's furniture because you can do so many fun and different styles. I want to try and make my mark in the mass production furniture design industry. Possibly design tables and chairs for restaurants or kitchen cabinets for the home. I do have thoughts about starting my own business in the future though."
Having such a unique major compared to other college students, Sprague's friends and parents are very supportive of her career goals.
"My friends usually laugh when I tell them my major, but I am always making and fixing things so I think they see my furniture design talent! All my friends say when I become a famous designer they want me to build furniture for their houses."
"My parents are also very supportive. As a college freshman my major was Pre-Med, but I knew after the first semester that I couldn't do that for my entire life. This major fits me, fits who I am and my personality. After I told my mom I had decided to switch my major she said ‘It's about time, I've been waiting for you to make that decision on your own!' My dad is a trim carpenter, he's the reason I started designing from the beginning."
Even though her career goals lie in furniture design, as with every athlete Sprague would love to continue her softball career after college.
"Softball has played such a large role in my life I would love to continue my career. I'm hoping that I can get a graduate assistant coaching position at a college with furniture design classes, that way I could concentrate on my career while keeping softball in my life."
"In ten years I'm hoping to see myself as a successful woman as either a furniture designer or a collegiate softball coach. It's all about the opportunities that come up along the way, also the connections I make throughout my career will help too."
Head softball coach Amy Fuller has nothing but good things to say about Janine, "Janine is such a unique person, she is talented in so many ways. She is the first one to step up and help with almost anything. She always seems to be the one who carries her mini tool box with her and has anything you might need in a crunch. Last year we had a flat tire in the vans, thank goodness Janine was there because she knew exactly what to do."
"She is a tremendously hard worker and a lot of fun to coach. Janine has the ability to be one of the top players in our conference and the region. She is the perfect lead off player because she can hit for power or lay a bunt down. Defensively, she is just a solid player with great game savvy."
As she begins her last two seasons of collegiate athletics, Sprague has many role models that she has looked up to throughout her career.
"Throughout high school I always looked up to Laura Brickhouse, she was three years older that I was during school but she was so good at her academics as well as her softball career, she played at ECU on a softball scholarship. Over the past two seasons it has definitely been the veterans on my softball team that I have looked up to, Tiffany McVay and Rhea Holler were great role models during my first two years, now I am striving to be the leader for the younger girls joining our team in 2004."
ETSU Athletic Media Relations