By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The list of names reads like giants of the game at Munford High School.
The Division I signees under the guidance of Head Coach Glenn Goulder include Cali Overbeck (Ole Miss), Sam Scott (UT-Martin), Jodie Duncan (UT-Martin) and Sami Jo Schulz (Memphis). The recent National Signing Day added a new person to the distinguished roll — Kelsey Frizzell.
“This is a huge accomplishment,” her mother Tracy declared. “Her work ethic is great. Her schooling is great. She has a great personality and is just an all-around great kid. She just worked hard.”
It was that work ethic that helped Kelsey overcome a visual difference from all the other Lady Cougars on that list.
“I’m very short,” Kelsey acknowledged. “That was something my Dad always instilled in me that you’re not going to be as big as everyone else. You’re not going to be as fast, and other stuff like that. Really the dedication and hard work I had to put into all of this, I was always told by other people that I am too short to play Division I softball.
“We always knew I would have the chance to play in college,” she continued. “The only question was where would it be. As long as you put in the hard work and dedication doing what you need to do, I was just lucky enough Coach Poole saw me at the right time.”
Kelsey’s father Ronnie made sure his daughter stayed prepared just in case the right opportunity came along. Frizzell will become a part of Memphis Head Coach Natalie Poole’s Lady Tigers in 2018. The senior attracted Memphis’ attention with her solid play in the infield and batting near the top of the Lady Cougars’ lineup earning her All-District.
“If you had told us this 17, 18 years ago, we wouldn’t have believed it,” Ronnie said. “We got in the yard and started fooling around about the age of 3. That’s when we started. She was just a natural. She was just a good athlete.”
Ronnie coached Kelsey until she was 12, handing her development over to traveling teams like Sparks Elite out of Alabama and the Blue Angels with Coach Hicks and Coach Jones.
“I thought about the age of 12, ‘She’s going to play college softball somewhere,’” he said. “Didn’t think it would be at the D-I level. But she just kept progressing. She got interested and we saw there’s a chance she’ll play at a D-I school.”
Tracy and Ronnie made sure Kelsey maintained a B average in the classroom and allowed her to play other sports including volleyball in high school.
Kelsey said she is grateful to her mother for her support and encouragement over the years. And to her father, Kelsey said the roller coaster was worth the ride.
“My Dad helped me by separating me and taking me places that would help me to play college ball,” she recalled. “He surrounded me with people who had the same mindset for me.
“There’s so many times we would get into an argument,” Kelsey added. “We would see things from two different views. But he always taught me from a young age, if you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it right. If this is something you want to do, you need to work hard at it. Especially with all the time and money spent, he was like we have to take this stuff seriously.”
Ronnie said once he felt Kelsey was taking the game seriously, she would reach the goal of playing Division I Softball.
“I’ve played baseball my whole life too,” he said. “I told her, ‘Kelsey you’re never going to be the biggest, strongest or the fastest. But there are two things you can do better than anybody else. It’s up to you to do them. You can out-work them. And you can be mentally tougher and outthink them. If you do those two things you can play at any level you want.’”
Goulder said Frizzell has earned her spot at Memphis and along side the other Lady Cougar Greats.
“It was easy to see,” he said. “She walked in one day one ready to play. You can’t hide talent. We’ve been blessed with some really good middle infielders. She made the move from second to short with no problems at all. Even though second base is her natural position, she moved over and did what was best for the team.
“She inspires the other kids,” Goulder continued. “They see what’s possible by putting in the time and effort. I can’t count how many times she’s come by my house saying, ‘Coach can I borrow the key because we’re going over to hit in the cage.’ And that’s what it takes. It takes extra. I’m just so proud for her.”
Kelsey said other names will be added to the Lady Cougar Softball Division I list soon. She hopes how the past Munford players inspired her, she does that for the next round whether tall or short.
“Those are girls I looked up to,” Kelsey said. “I remember watching Jodie Duncan playing. I was like, Wow. And the way she carried herself and the way she thought of Christ and stuff. She took me under her wings with that. I really appreciate that.
“I would go to camps and see Sami Jo and she would like encouraging me,” she concluded. “Definitely folks I looked up to. And now to be in the same category with them is amazing. I want people to remember me as a leader. I want to leave a positive impact and I want people to know I was a better teammate than anything else.
Just be positive, be a leader and work hard.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.