Athlete of the Week: Veronika Gunther


Fia Cooper

Junior Veronika Gunther views her softball team as almost a family away from home. “We’re a tight knit community at this point, we’re practically a family,” she said. “I feel like that makes me want to play and just have fun.”

Megan Snyder, Assistant Editor

Ever since elementary school, junior Veronika Gunther has maintained a love for softball, continuing the sport to play on La Salle’s JV team through this season.

She still recalls her first time ever experiencing the sport, playing catcher on a kids team where her dad was the assistant coach. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had a great time,” Gunther said. 

Since then, Gunther said she has grown a lot in the sport, and is now playing second base — a position she loves due to the amount of action and communication involved. Although she tried other positions like outfield and third base over the last few years, Gunther considers second base her favorite because “it’s really active, [so] I’m moving around a lot,” she said. “I’m in the moment, and I just get to be present.”

Though the softball schedule was more hectic due to the implications of remote learning last year, playing on the team served as a social outlet for Gunther in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a very social person, she appreciates how the sport has allowed her to connect with her friends in person rather than online. “During COVID I didn’t really see a lot of people, and softball really helped me get through it,” she said. “It just really helped motivate me to continue on.”

In fact, having fun with her teammates is one of Gunther’s favorite parts of playing softball. Between team dinners every Monday and hanging out between games, she believes the team has gotten especially close this season. “We’re a small little family and we’re just so close,” she said. “All of us talk and we have a great time.”

While she has found it challenging to balance sports and schoolwork this season, Gunther said she has also been able to see a brighter side of being so busy. “It has been hard finding time to balance school life and softball, but I feel like [softball] just gives me a break,” she said. 

Part of the reason why this season has been so special to Gunther is because of her coach Jimmy Hurley’s way of leading the team. She believes that he has been the perfect person to return their team to a sense of “normalcy” during the pandemic, and has created a fun and welcoming environment every practice. “He is really funny,” Gunther said. “He’s relaxed, but he’s tough at the same time…he’s been there for us.”

Though there have been many standout moments in Gunther’s season so far, the one that has stuck out the most to her was their recent game against Rex Putnam High School. “The whole vibe or electricity between our players — I just felt it, and we won,” she said.

Gunther said that she found this game special not only because of the win, but because of the energy felt by each player that day. “We communicated, we talked…the way we acted that game just reminded me why I love softball so much,” she said.

After high school, Gunther doesn’t plan on playing softball in college because she wants to fully direct her focus to her academics and future career. At the same time, she said she also knows the experiences she has had playing over the years will still have a special place in her heart. “I want to pursue other things, but I definitely feel like [softball] will be a part of me and a part of who I am,” she said.