March 12, 2002

Home Run Queen of Cornell Softball

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When you ask a coach to tell you about his or her star player, you expect him to tell you about, well, his or her star player.

However, when women’s softball coach Dick Blood was asked about his sophomore standout, Kate Varde, one word was repeated over and over, team.

This sophomore standout cares far more about being an integral part of her team than she does about the being the standout that she is.

Varde is one of those athletes who truly cares about her team’s success and is never quick to put her own stats before a discussion of the win-loss column.

The humble hard hitter is “all about her team,” Blood said. “She will play anywhere we ask her to, and she has told me numerous times that she will do whatever she needs to, to win ballgames.”

And win they did. The Red has won the Ivy League title two of the past three seasons and has its eyes set on another crown this season.

While helping her team capture the Ivy Championship in 2001, Varde earned a few personal accolades as well. She was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and was a first-team All-Ivy selection.

If that were not impressive enough, last year’s starting shortstop, who will move to her natural position in center field this season, set a program record, hitting 14 home runs in a single season.

According to Blood, Varde’s personal success has done anything but go to her head. The modest athlete from Wilmette, Ill. is still focused on one thing: her team.

“You’ll ask Kate what it was like to be named Rookie of the Year or to be named to the first All-Ivy team, and she’ll tell you all about how her team won the Ivy Title. That’s just the type of player she is.”

Every Division I athlete was, to some extent, born gifted.

Coach Blood agrees that Varde is a gifted athlete, but adds that “her hard work and focus make her the talented player that she is today. Her talent is a reflection of her hard work, notably her great range and strong throwing arm. While she is a gifted young woman, she has overcome many obstacles to get where she is.”

While only a sophomore, Varde has taken on the role of a leader on her team.

When asked to describe her personality, Blood had nothing but good things to say about his sophomore standout.

“She is a compassionate player who is extremely vocal.”

She leads her team by being vocal and through her example of hard work and focus. She cheers just as much when she is on the field as she does when she’s in the dugout,” said Blood. “Her energy and positive outlook are contagious.”

Varde has endured two surgeries to repair both of her knees. After recovering from two ACL tears, she is the fastest player on the team, and not surprisingly, the hardest worker.

Blood summed it up best when he said that she is more than just a good player.

In addition to all of her talent and leadership abilities, “She’s a nice kid too.” Varde and her teammates will once again be looking for their hard work to pay off this season. If she’s not slamming one over the fence or patrolling the vast expanse of center field, just listen to her. “She’ll be out there cheering for her team with her glove on,” said Blood.

In fact, Blood was quick to point out that his favorite picture of Varde hangs on his office door and is symbolic of Varde and her attitude towards the game,

In the picture, an elated Varde is screaming for her team while pounding her mitt.

In reference to the picture Blood offered a terse yet significant response saying, “That’s just Varde.”

Archived article by Amy Sharenko