Langley’s Sydni Kemper has accepted a full-ride softball scholarship to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., one of three offers she received from U.S. Div. 1 universities.
A pitcher for Ridge Meadows Pride 2000 and Synergy Gold U18 teams, Kemper sparked interest from across the U.S. over the last two seasons, resulting in multiple offers and expressions of interest.
This summer, she was scouted by the Arizona Impact Gold at the 2015 Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships in Surrey, giving her the opportunity to play with the Impact in the Arizona FroShow and the Thanksgiving Shootout in Phoenix this month.
Within days of the tournaments, she had three official offers of full-ride scholarships from Div. 1 schools.
She accepted the verbal offer from Grand Canyon University on Nov. 19.
“The biggest thing for me was head coach Ann Pearson and the assistant coaches Christi Musser and Kelsey Rodriguez,” said Kemper, on her choice of GCU over the other offers.
“They have a very structured system when it comes to how they run their team and, after talking with all three, I felt like I already knew what was expected of me without question. They are all very enthusiastic about the game and I feel like my years at GCU are going to be some of my best.”
It’s an achievement that has made Kemper and her family incredibly proud.
“My dad, from the very first time I picked up a ball, told me I was going to go far one day with this sport,” Kemper recalled. “Everyone thought my parents were crazy for how hard they have pushed me. If there were two things I’ve learned, it’s that presence is everything and that my parents aren’t always wrong. I have loved it from the first time I picked up the ball.”
At 15, Kemper throws a 62 mph fastball and is a power hitter with a .426 batting average.
“Sydni was always the first player to the park,” said her pitching coach Kim Brooks. “She worked hard even when she struggled and this helped her grow into the pitcher she is today. I’m excited to see her evolve into an amazing pitcher.”
Grand Canyon University has a reputation for both excellence in athletics as well as academics.
In 2014/15, its women’s softball team placed second in the Western Athletic Conference while also earning the second-highest team grade-point average among any Div. 1 program during the academic year, above Harvard.
An Honour Roll student, Kemper said the academic standards and support were also a big part of the appeal of Grand Canyon University.
“Many University sport programs limit access to academic programs because of the conflict with travel and training schedules,” added her mom Susan, a former elite athlete and Olympic level synchronized swimming coach. “At GCU they ensure that academics takes first place, providing the tutoring and support to enable students to do both.”
Kemper’s intention is to pursue both a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and a Bachelor of Business in Sport Management.
It’s an opportunity to be an elite athlete while pursing the education of elite athletics.
“My dream has been to play for a Division 1 school ever since the differences in the levels of universities was explained to me,” said Kemper, about why she chose Grand Canyon University. “I knew I wanted to play with the best and be the best. I feel like at GCU I have the ability to do both.”