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Walk-on outfielder Victoria Blagg living her dream with North Texas softball after tragedy

Walk-on outfielder Victoria Blagg living her dream with North Texas softball after tragedy

North Texas junior outfielder Victoria Blagg poses for a portrait at Lovelace Field. Dylan Nadwodny

Walk-on outfielder Victoria Blagg living her dream with North Texas softball after tragedy
February 09
00:08 2017

When she was a little girl, walk-on junior outfielder Victoria Blagg knew exactly where she would be playing.

Blagg grew up in Denton with softball in her blood. Her grandfather played fast pitch softball, and took her to North Texas games. Lovelace Field soon became a softball cathedral for her. She watched Mean Green teams of old, and knew she would be the future.

When she got the chance to walk-on to head coach Tracey Kee’s squad thanks to open tryouts held in September of 2015, it was a chance she waited a long time for, and an opportunity she knew she was ready for.

“I was not nervous at all the whole summer leading up to it,” Blagg said. “I didn’t really take any time off. It was honestly a lot of fun. Once we got going [in the tryout] it was like practice with a team I had been around.”

Her athleticism caught Kee’s eye. Out of the handful to try out, Blagg was the only one who was offered a spot. Blagg had experience at the junior college level after time with North Central Texas College.

“I think when you hold open tryouts for kids who are enrolled you get a lot of different types,” Kee said. “I felt she had the athleticism to contribute to our team.”

But during Blagg’s freshman year at NCTC, tragedy struck the softball program.

In September 2014, the team bus was traveling home after a game against Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma. Just south of Turner Falls, Oklahoma, a semi travelling northbound on Interstate-35 crossed the center median and struck the team bus.

Four NCTC players were killed. Brooke Deckard, 20, of Blue Ridge; Jaiden Pelton, 19, of Telephone; Meagan Richardson, 19, of Wylie; and Katelynn Woodlee, 18, of Dodd City were all killed.

The driver of the semi, 55-year old Russell Staley, was charged with four counts of first-degree man slaughter. Staley committed suicide in January before he could stand trial.

Blagg was not on the bus that night, as she chose to ride home with her parents.

“Going to four funerals in one week and back to those girl’s hometowns, that was the hardest thing I ever did,” Blagg said. “Seeing the heartbreak on their closest friends and family’s face. Whenever things start to move too fast here, I kind of think about that. It really helps put things in perspective. Yes, it can be hard at times, but it’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Not being on the bus that night created a sense of disconnection between Blagg and some of her teammates, according to Blagg’s mother, Tobye Ann Blagg.

She knew she and her husband had to be there for their only adopted daughter.

“It’s hard when a team goes through something like that and you’re not actually with them,” Tobye Ann said. “She would try to encourage them, and some would tell her she didn’t know what it was like. She felt like an outsider.”

Tobye Ann and her husband adopted Victoria when she was nine months old and homeschooled her after third grade. Victoria is the youngest of four children, three of whom are adopted.

Victoria and all her siblings were homeschooled. It was through homeschooling that Victoria found a passion for softball, using the extra time she found after completing her schoolwork in the family’s batting cage in the yard.

Her talent led her to start playing travel softball at the age of nine. Her parents always gave her the option to go to public school or private school, an option she never took.

“You really have to be self-disciplined to stay on top of things,” Victoria said. “Just like you do in college. I think it really helped prepare me for college. A lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about homeschooling…it really just helped me hone the craft of softball at the same time.”

Victoria was a three-year letter winner for the Christian Home School Athletes of North Texas Chargers, who won the national title in 2013. It is not often a homeschool athlete finds their way to Division I sports, but for Victoria, she always knew.

“She told me when she was eight years old that she would play in college,” Tobye Ann said.

Victoria has a chance to contribute to a young team that features just five upperclassmen. Kee hopes she can step in an immediately make an impact.

“She’s come a very long way since we added her to the roster,” Kee said. “As a student-athlete I can’t complain. Her grades are perfect. I think a lot of people can be nervous with a home school student but in her case I think she’s incredibly prepared.”

She will get her chance when the season finally starts up on February 10 against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. It has been a long time coming for Blagg to finally suit up in a North Texas uniform, and a bumpy one, at that.

But when her mother and father, who was a longtime UNT employee, finally see her don the Mean Green across her chest, it will all be worth it.

Even the neighbors will come out to watch. Her neighbors being her grandparents.

“My family has always been supporters of everything I do,” Victoria said. “It’s been a blessing from God that I’ve been able to come here. When I was in my junior or senior year of high school I knew going to a junior college for my first two years was best, but I had every intention of finishing at North Texas.”

Featured Image: North Texas junior outfielder Victoria Blagg poses for a portrait at Lovelace Field. Dylan Nadwodny

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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1 Comment

  1. Nathan
    Nathan February 09, 08:27

    Goodness. Tragic story but so happy for Victoria!

    Reply to this comment

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