Recruited to Play Sports, and Win a Culture War


Jayleigh Totten came to New College because she wasn’t happy on her team at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City, a Division II school where students were expected to attend church twice a week. She didn’t mind the church part, but she did mind that her coach wasn’t giving her any playing time. She was starting to think that she might as well drop out of college and start working her way toward her dream career as a real estate agent. Still hoping that some great softball opportunity might pop up, she put her name in the transfer portal, which allows athletes to be contacted by interested coaches around the country. That led her, last spring, to a conversation with a coach who was starting a softball team at a school on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Totten would have the chance to make history, she was told. The coach was a young woman, and Totten thought she sounded sane and real and caring. And besides, how bad could it be? She would be playing softball by the ocean!
Totten committed. It didn’t matter to her that she knew little about the school, or that the players might not even be part of an official league in the first year. The school was small, but it was a public honors college for top students, which also appealed to her.


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