By William Bowman • Photo by Marc Hagemeier
As Cydnee Sanders '15 got to know her new coach, the pair figured the best way to do what was right for the team — and Sanders' career as a Bison — was to talk it out.
In the first game of her final season with Bucknell's softball team, the atypical career of Cydnee Sanders '15 had what has become a pretty typical moment.
After finishing third in the nation in batting as a junior in 2014 and leading the Bison to the Patriot League title game, Sanders had a chance to break a tie and drive in the game-winning run in the team's 2015 debut. In a tense moment, the senior from Magnolia, Texas, called a timeout to discuss the situation with head coach Bonnie Skrenta.
Conversations between the two are regular occurrences, particularly since Skrenta took over the Bison program following Sanders' first season. Skrenta quickly understood the impact Sanders could have on the program when her starting shortstop became a regular visitor to her office. "It's difficult when a new coach comes in. We don't know the players, and they don't know us," Skrenta says. "But every day, Cyd came in to talk, asking me ‘what's next?' Not many kids do that."
For Sanders, it was an extension of who she is, putting her anthropology and sociology major to practical use. She chose Bucknell for its combination of athletics and academics — she was the Patriot League's Scholar Athlete of the Year in softball in a record-breaking 2014 season — and for what it offered outside of class.
"I knew we had to make it work," Sanders says. "We are all lucky to be at a place like Bucknell and lucky to play a game we love. I wanted to make sure I knew what was happening — to understand her direction for the program and what she expected."
For Skrenta those talks were also about letting Sanders take charge of her own game. "Early on, I needed her to know I had confidence in her."
And of that talk in the last inning of a tie game at the start of the 2015 season? "Cyd asked me what I thought of her game plan," Skrenta recalls. "I told her, ‘You can do whatever you want right now. Whatever you do is going to be right.'"
The result? "She drove in the winning run, of course."