Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Devon Wallace Steps Into Justin's World

As the SEC softball scene has risen, the Arkansas Razorbacks appear to have been somewhat left behind. You can't always count on appearances to tell the whole story, however - despite less-than-successful win/loss records, that Hogs have had some serious talent on their squad over the last several years, and none more skilled than first baseman Devon Wallace.

Even as the Hogs struggled to move up the "W" column, Wallace quietly put together impressive season after impressive season. The SEC Freshman of the Year and a member of the all-conference first team in her inaugural campaign in 2012, Wallace added the program's single-season home run record to her trophy case that began to bulge after year one.

Among other honors, including an election to the all-conference second team in 2014, Devon holds the Southeastern Conference's all-time record for walks. Early in her senior season, she also set a new school home run record with her 44th career roundtripper.

One of the Hogs' finest, Wallace was drafted in the 4th round to the NPF, but elected to forgo a professional career in order to begin her career in her chosen field of nursing.

I actually ran into Devon at the SEC Tournament in Baton Rouge, where she had traveled with some teammates solely as a spectator. In this interview, as you'll see below, she dishes on many different topics including:

  • The allure of Fayetteville
  • Trying to make great senior memories in the midst of a season in a downward spiral
  • Being drafted to the NPF
  • Choosing to forgo a pro softball career
  • and MORE

Justin’s World: How did you get started playing softball?
Devon Wallace: I started playing softball when I was 4 years old. My parents actually met while playing in a slow pitch league so I guess you could say I was destined to play!

Justin’s World: What appealed to you most about playing in Fayetteville and the SEC?
Devon Wallace: Fayetteville is such a beautiful city. It is right at the base of the Ozarks so there’s a lot of natural beauty about the city and the University was the perfect size for me- not too big and not too small. My goal growing up was always to play division 1 softball in a big conference and during the time of my visit to the University of Arkansas, the SEC was starting to become the softball powerhouse conference, so I knew I was going to be able to face the best players in the country.

Justin’s World: What would you call your favorite memory from your collegiate career?
Devon Wallace: My favorite memory was when we went to Cal Berkeley my freshman year for regionals. They were ranked number one in the country and we were able to beat them the first game and make it to the first-ever regional final in program history.

Justin’s World: After a few seasons of success and postseason appearances, your senior year in 2015 was not a great one for the Hogs. Tell me what it's like to be mired in such a disappointing year, at least in wins and losses, and yet still keep your head up and try to put together the best senior season that you can.
Devon Wallace: It was disappointing to not be able to make post season this year like we had hoped, but I tried to just focus on enjoying my last season of playing. I had so much fun with my team during my senior year and I can honestly say that, despite the circumstances, I truly enjoyed myself and the company I was surrounded with.

Justin’s World: Talk to me about being drafted. What went through your mind when you found out you had been selected? How did you originally hear about the league? Was playing professionally something you had ever given serious thought to at that point?
Devon Wallace: Coach Larabee had been contacted by a coach in the NPF saying they were interested in me, but initially, I didn’t think I would actually be drafted since I wasn’t having my best year offensively. I was really surprised and excited when I found out I had been selected. I had always had an interest in playing professionally but honestly just didn’t think I would get the opportunity to play.

Justin’s World: Then, despite being drafted, you elected to forgo a professional softball career and begin your post-college working career. Describe for me the process of making that decision.
Devon Wallace: It was a very difficult decision to forgo a professional career and begin my nursing career. I was so excited to have been drafted and am so thankful to the Pennsylvania Rebellion for giving me the option to play professionally if I had chosen to do so. However, after talking it over with my family and really reflecting on what I wanted to do with my future, I elected to begin my nursing career. I feel it truly is my calling in life and I can’t wait to get out there and start helping children and their families.

Justin’s World: Tell me how you chose medicine, specifically nursing, as your career. Did you always know that was what you “wanted to be”?
Devon Wallace: I’ve always been interested in the medical field since I was little. Science was always my favorite subject in school and I found the human body particularly interesting. Initially, I was a biology major with a pre-med focus but after giving it some thought, I decided nursing was a better fit for me. While I love the science behind the medicine, I also love the patient care aspect of nursing. It’s an incredible feeling to build a relationship with your patients and be able to watch them heal and grow under your care. 

Justin’s World: If you could change any one thing about the game of softball today at any level, what would you change and how would you do so?
Devon Wallace: If I could change one thing about the game of softball, I would make a rule that no recruiting can be done until the player is a sophomore in high school. I think it is crazy that schools are recruiting kids at such a young age. That puts an incredible amount of pressure on kids and I don’t think a 12 year old should feel pressured to have to decide where they want to earn their degree at that time in their lives.

Justin’s World: What do you hope people remember most about the name "Devon Wallace"?
Devon Wallace: I hope people remember me as a good teammate, a hard working individual, and someone who embodies good sportsmanship.

Justin’s World: Who was the toughest opponent you faced, single player or team?
Devon Wallace: Personally, I hated hitting off Hannah Rogers. I don’t think I got a hit off her the last two years we played Florida. She definitely had my number!

Justin’s World: Who would play you in a movie about your life and what would the film be titled?
Devon Wallace: I would want Jennifer Lawrence to play me because she’s my favorite actress. I don’t know what the film would be titled…maybe something along the lines of Confessions of a Cat Lady. Because I’m probably going to grow up to be a crazy cat lady.

Justin’s World: Let's finish up with my signature question. Say you were stranded on a deserted island for an undisclosed period of time, but could take three things with you. Anything tangible is on the table, except boats and phones. What would you take?

Devon Wallace: I would take my two teammates Sierra Bronkey and Kasey Fagan for entertainment purposes. Then I would probably take some sunscreen because I’m really pale and burn really easily. 

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