Why I Came Back: Softball's Jacqueline Paul

Why I Came Back: Softball's Jacqueline Paul

Following the cancelation of all NCAA spring sports last March, Jacqueline Paul (Burlington, N.J.) is one of two softball players that made the decision to return to Babson for graduate school while using her final season of eligibility in 2020-21. Paul, who interned with the Philadelphia Phillies in the summer of 2018 and hopes to work in Major League Baseball, is enrolled in the Master of Science in Business Analytics program. She is scheduled to graduate in May 2021. 

Within a 48-hour period we went from playing a very successful tournament in Arizona to having school and softball canceled. For all seniors, college had to come to an unwanted, sudden, and unpredictable end. There were friends who I wasn't sure when I would see again, the loss of senior activities, and of course the end of my softball career. Graduate school was the furthest thing from my mind as I tried to process what was happening and enjoy the last week of school with everyone before we entered the uncertainty of COVID-19 quarantine and the dreaded world of work, accelerated by this unprecedented pandemic.

Somewhere roughly five weeks into quarantine and nearing completion of binge-watching Schitts's Creek while in the midst of a discussion about my future, my parents asked me what would be the next best step to help me achieve my dream of working in Major League Baseball (Hint: It wasn't working at the accounting firm where I had a looming start date). MLB, like many businesses, has transformed into a sport that is driven by data and analytics, and coincidentally Babson has an MS in Business Analytics. It only took me a few minutes to think it over, and while the accounting job was the safe, expected decision, it would be a huge disservice to myself if I didn't follow my passion. I called coach Canan that night to talk about returning and playing softball.

It still feels weird to say that I am coming back to school and it will be different. Aside from COVID-19, I will be going back to school without six (Brooke is joining me at grad school!!) of my classmates, but more importantly my best friends. None of them got the ending they deserved, but I know Brooke and I will work to carry on the legacy that we created. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how my class's love and support always encouraged me to become the best version of myself. When I told them I was going back to grad school, their outpouring of support, along with my parents' and current teammates' support, allowed me to feel confident in my decision.

When everything was canceled in March, there was so much loss it was hard to comprehend that I had played my last softball game. As I started to get into my "quarantine routine", it set in that I would never be on the field with my teammates competing for another NEWMAC championship. I wrote in my senior reflection that achieving the idea of "Heartwork" is much more important than winning and I still believe that is true. Yet, I would be less than 100 % truthful if I didn't mention my excitement in competing for one last season, especially with a young team that showed so much potential.

Getting closure implies that you have complete acceptance of what has happened - in this case graduating from college. The class of 2020 never had an opportunity to get that. There are so many memories, activities, and traditions we missed out on. This year, I will not be seeking this idea or journey of "closure", but rather focusing on continuing the legacy of the class of 2020. 

Read more on Jacqueline's decision to return to Babson and her dream of working in Major League Baseball in Babson Thought & Action