Hard work pays off


Photo Credit: Zoe Bender

Bender celebrating the 100 career hit milestone during a game in the 2015 season.

by Alethea Jadick, Staff Writer

Zoe Bender was in elementary school when she first dreamed of playing collegiate softball. Now, a senior, she can finally say that her dream has become a reality after committing to play Division 1 softball at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY.

Zoe has been playing softball for as long as she can remember and has one last high school season before beginning at Wagner. She hit leadoff and played centerfield on the Glen Rock softball team that went 21-6 last season. Bender is also a slapper, which means she hits lefty and that gives her the distinct opportunity to begin running while making contact with the ball.

Bender has had a very impressive varsity high school career so far. As a junior she achieved 100 hits, which is a difficult feat to accomplish even as a senior.

“She is a unique player,” said Coach Dowell, adding that Bender is a very intense competitor and a supportive teammate.

According to Victoria “Vix” Small, a junior, Bender is a good teammate because she is constantly picking people up, even if the team is losing.

“Zoe stands out from other players because she sprints on and off the field and she shows everyone how much she loves to play,” Small said. Bender and Small have been friends for many years, on and off the field.

As well as high school softball Bender plays year round for NJ Pride, a club team. She trains non-stop, doing showcases all summer, all fall and even in the winter, working out with the NJ Pride. She also does Winter Track to stay in shape when she is playing softball less frequently. “Training is very important to me,” Bender says, “I am a firm believer that hard work always pays off.”

Bender found Wagner through her club softball coach, Rob Stern.

“Coach Stern has helped me tremendously in the recruiting process,” Bender said. Bender has had strong relationships with all of her coaches and thanked them for helping her become the player she is today.

She also attributes her success to her parents, saying that they gave her the confidence and competitive edge she needed to succeed. Bender is looking forward to competing with her future team as a Seahawk, taking specialized classes for her major, and being able to travel easily into New York City which will only be a boat ride away.

Wagner Softball had a strong season last year in 2015. They are nationally ranked and are a part of the Northeast Conference. They recruit players from all over the country, including Hawaii.

For most seniors, the college search is still a work in progress, students are visiting and applying to schools. Thanks to her love for softball, Bender is able to play her favorite sport for at least the next four years of her life. She still has one last campaign wearing the Glen Rock High School uniform and one last effort to bring home a state title for the town she grew up in.