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Monday, September 19, 2016

Kate Dickman Steps Into Justin's World

The Utah Utes have battled, with considerable effort since joining the sport's historically-top conference, to assume a place of relevance in the crowded Pac-12 softball scene. Head coach Amy Hogue has slowly but surely brought her squad up to a parallel presence with some of the nation's biggest powerhouses.

One of the players who can claim and be highly credited with the program's rise over the last several seasons is the class of 2015's own Kate Dickman. A three-time all-conference selection and a recipient of all-PAC freshman honors in her inaugural season, Dickman also earned all-region honors in her final season as a Ute.

Helping led her squad from the conference's newcomers to, quickly, a title contender, Dickman was one of a half-dozen players to earn all-PAC recognition in 2015, the same year the Utes reached the NCAA tournament for the first time as a Pac-12 program.

Kate and I chatted about a host of issues and topics, including:

  • Why she chose Utah
  • Her sister Ally, an up-and-coming Utes star in her own right
  • Her thoughts on the SEC vs. Pac-12 superiority debate
  • and much more, including the JWOS-patented deserted island question (where I failed to put the usual parameters on things!)

Justin’s World: How did you get your start playing softball?
Kate Dickman: I have been playing softball ever since I can remember. My parents put me in t-ball when I was 5 (my first team was the Lil’ Wahines) and I’ve been playing ever since. I’ve never even tried another sport.

Justin’s World: What brought you to Utah as your place to go to school and play ball?
Kate Dickman: When I was in high school, I was being recruited by “Coach A”. I took an unoffical visit the fall of my junior year and loved the campus and coaching staff. Utah is beautiful; I would be able to get to experience all four seasons, and it was still not too far from home. Around the same time I was deciding on committing, I learned that Utah was joining the Pac 12 and that sealed the deal.

 Justin’s World: You were part of the Utes team as they really began to make their mark and join the PAC-12’s top tier. Tell me what that was like, to be part of the team when they began showing they could hang with the historical “big dogs”.
Kate Dickman: Well, my freshman year at Utah was Utah’s first year in the Pac 12. That season, we won two Pac 12 games all season. In my senior year, we finished 4th in the Pac 12, our record was 12-11 in conference, and we also went to regionals for the first time since 2006. We ‘started from the bottom’ and it was an honor to be a part of that. Every day we had to prove ourselves to others; that we deserved to be part of the Pac 12 and that just made me work even harder. Knowing that not everyone believed we could hang with the big dogs in the beginning made me, and the rest of the teammates I played with, want it even more. My entire four years at Utah, my team, coaches and myself always believed that we could not only ‘hang with the big dogs’ but be better than the big dogs. Having to earn the right to be respected in the Pac 12 is something I am very grateful for. I believe that having to prove myself and having to help my team prove ourselves, that we could be a ‘big dog’ team, gave me a special work ethic that drove me to want to improve every year, which is what we did. Although I wish I was able to play in the post-season every year, I am able to say that I was a part of Utah making its mark in the Pac 12 and that I helped build the program to the ‘big dog’ team that they are now.

Justin’s World: Tell me about your sister, Ally, following in your footsteps as a Utes softball player.
Kate Dickman: When Ally decided to commit to Utah, I was so happy because I knew she would be able to get an amazing college softball experience like I did. The coaches, staff, teammates, friends, and family I made in Utah was something that I was really glad Ally and I would be able to share. I think it’s really cool that she decided to play at Utah, but I don’t necessarily want her to follow in my footsteps. I want her to make her own footsteps and have her own experience and story to tell. Everyone always asks if I think Ally will be able to live up to what I did, but I believe she will do far greater things than me; she already has! She won Pac 12 Freshman of the Week twice already, an award I never won! Every week, she makes me more and more proud to be her big sis. Seeing the passion she has makes me miss playing a lot but I’m so glad that I get to stick around the program for four more years since she’s there. I love watching her play and not only to see the great things she’s doing, but also to try and help her improve her game as well.

Justin’s World: Who was the toughest opponent you faced during your career, either an individual or team?
Kate Dickman: This is a tough question since I faced so many great teams and players throughout my four years at Utah. The toughest pitcher I faced would have to be either Jessica Moore or Ally Carda. The toughest team I faced was Oregon. I hate admitting this, but I never beat the Ducks while I was at Utah.

Justin’s World: What is the proudest moment of your career?
Kate Dickman: The proudest moment of my career is hands down the night of the selection show my senior year. The whole team was together and when we heard our name called, it was the best feeling I had in all four years at Utah. We worked so hard for that one moment and I will remember everything about that night forever. Hitting a walk-off against our rival, BYU, my junior year was pretty cool too.

Justin’s World: Give me your thoughts on the debate about the sport’s top conference, whether it’s the PAC-12 or the SEC.
Kate Dickman: Playing in the Pac 12 and the level of competition I faced every single game, I would have to say that the sport’s top conference is definitely the Pac 12.

Justin’s World: Is coaching an avenue you have thought about pursuing or might go down at some point? What other kind of plans do you have for the future?
Kate Dickman: While I was playing, I never really thought coaching was an avenue I wanted to pursue, but I am currently helping coach a travel ball team and I have learned that I love coaching. Teaching other people about the game and things I’ve learned from playing is so fun to me and I think it would be really cool to coach at the college level someday.

Justin’s World: Let’s set a scene here. Say you were stranded on a deserted island for an undetermined period of time. No boats, no phones, but anything else tangible goes. What would you take?
Kate Dickman: I would take a speaker to play music, a lifetime supply of Mr. Pibb and my Bible. Probably some sunscreen and sunglasses too. And my dog. 

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