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What It's Like To Transfer From JUCO To Division III

(Photo courtesy of Heather Wineman)

Heather Wineman is currently a college junior playing softball at Howard Payne University (Division III) in Brownwood, Texas.

Wineman played high school softball in Refugio, Texas. Back then, she was recruited to play college softball at the JUCO level for Cisco College in Cisco, Texas. She played at Cisco for two seasons, competing primarily as a pitcher and outfielder.

After graduating from Cisco, Wineman made the transition to the Division III level at Howard Payne, from where she plans to graduate in 2024.

See below for Softball America’s interview with Wineman, as she discusses her experiences as a college player at both the JUCO and Division III levels.

Softball America: What experiences did you have at the JUCO level that were beneficial to your Division III college career?

Heather Wineman: The most beneficial aspect of Cisco was living alone, yet still being surrounded by loving people. This helped me grow, as I had to learn that my parents were not going to always be there. On the field, I had to adapt and realized that I needed to get out of a high school mentality. These women playing with me were very talented and hardworking. I had to train harder and this made me realize that I wanted to keep playing softball past the JUCO level.

SA: Why did you decide to continue your college softball career at Howard Payne?

HW: Howard Payne was not my first choice, but they had the most interest in me. Originally, I wanted to be a physician assistant. However, I soon realized that I wanted to obtain my nursing degree. Howard Payne has a great nursing program that is very hands-on, which steered me toward the school. I am happy that I came here, as everyone has been very welcoming.

SA: What is it like to get recruited to a JUCO compared to a Division III school?

HW: The recruiting process for JUCO was rather long, which made me very unsure if I even wanted to play college ball. I had to go on visits, take time off high school and really get to know the coaches to see if I fit their program. However, going from JUCO to DIII, the process almost felt rushed. I visited Howard Payne, loved it and signed immediately. I did not want to get left behind and for JUCO to be the end of my softball career. I feel if I had waited and not taken initiative on my own, then nobody would have taken an interest in me like Howard Payne did.

SA: What are some of the similarities and differences between JUCO and DIII softball that you have noticed?

HW: The biggest difference I see between the two is the regulations. I felt out of place at first not having weights and four-hour practices every day, as my JUCO school did. At Howard Payne, we were only allowed three to four weeks of practice and two scrimmages in the preseason. The similarities I see between JUCO and DIII are within the players, as the girls are all eager to play the game they love. The coaching is different as well, but the heart for the game is always the same.

SA: What has been your favorite part about getting to play for multiple schools?

HW: The friendships I have made along the way have definitely been my favorite part about playing for both schools. I am still close with my teammates from Cisco and I have even introduced them to my teammates at Howard Payne. Although scary at times, it is always exciting to start at a new school.

SA: What advice do you have for high school athletes aspiring to play college softball?

HW: Do not stop until you are satisfied with where you are at and the school you have chosen. Life does not get any easier once you go to college, as it gets harder with training, school work and having a job. You need to have a clean schedule and always be on your toes for whatever life throws at you next.

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