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Abi Stahlhut Talks Transferring, Overcoming Injuries

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(Photo by Indiana Athletics)

This past spring, Abi Stahlhut played her first season of college softball at Indiana. But after returning home following the COVID-shortened campaign, Stahlhut reevaluated her college future and decided to enter the transfer portal. She landed at Eastern Illinois this offseason after doing so.

Softball America spoke with Stahlhut about her decision to transfer to EIU, enduring a meniscus tear as a high school senior and her best advice for other transfers and injured players.

Softball America: When did you know you wanted to transfer?

Abi Stahlhut: Making the decision to transfer was in no way an easy one. After the spring season ended so abruptly, I was left in a place of confusion and sadness, and in no way was ready to make the leap into the transfer portal. After being home for a few weeks, and having tough conversations with my parents, the coaching staff at Indiana University and doing some self-reflection, I chose to enter the portal and see what my options were.

SA: Why did you end up transferring?

AS: My main goal as an athlete, like many others, is to have the opportunity to make an impact on the game I love. Transferring was never a part of my plan, but at the abrupt end of my freshman season at Indiana, there were some tough conversations that needed to be had, and ultimately, I realized my opportunity to reach my goals wasn’t necessarily going to be with the Hoosiers.

Other factors played into my decision as well, like the cost of my degree, the distance from home and my educational goals, but my desire to lead both on and off the field was ultimately my deciding factor.

SA: What aspects of EIU helped you make your decision?

AS: As soon as I entered the transfer portal, and had the clearance to communicate with other schools, I had an email waiting for me from Coach Tara Archibald. My recruiting process with Eastern Illinois University began immediately, and I spoke weekly with Coach Archibald about the potential of becoming a Panther. Every conversation I had with her was comforting, and although I appreciated the time other coaches took to speak with me, I made my decision to transfer to EIU quickly.

SA: What are you excited about for your future at EIU?

AS: I think what I’m most excited about for my future at Eastern Illinois is the potential. The opportunities that have been presented to me, whether in the classroom or on the field, are more than enough to fire me up. The room for growth that our program has, especially under the leadership of Coach Archibald and her staff, is tremendous, and I’m thankful to be a part of such an incredible program.

SA: What advice would you give to other softball players thinking about transferring?

AS: The best advice I can give is to think not only with your heart and love for the sport, but to allow yourself the opportunity to remove the emotion and think with logic and reasoning. Wanting more and doing more to get where you want to be are the best things you can do through the transfer process, and ultimately, those decisions come from within.

SA: How did your mindset change once you endured a meniscus tear as a senior in high school?

AS: During my senior season, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was committed, and ready to graduate and start a new chapter of my life. However, a meniscus tear wasn’t something I could just overlook.

The biggest thing I learned during that entire process was that nothing can be taken for granted. The thought of taking any game, any practice or any swing off isn’t an option for me any longer.

SA: What advice would you give to other softball players who also have to overcome injuries?

AS: The only advice I have for someone in a similar situation is to embrace the suck. I’ve heard that phrase dozens of times over the years, but during my rehab, it absolutely rang true. Some days are harder than others, but the end result will always be worth it.

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