Sherry Tegarden Flecksteiner played softball for Belmont from 1995-1999. A 2009 Belmont Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee, Sherry was a versatile performer that was a steadying force in transitioning the Bruin program from NAIA to NCAA Division I play. During her career, Sherry was named All-TCAC team and All-Independent Section teams in 1996 and 1997 and served as co-captain of the softball team during the transition to NCAA Division I. She currently ranks in the top-five in Belmont history in five statistical categories, including first in runs scored with 128.
BelmontBruins.com recently interviewed Sherry about her career at Belmont as well her life now as a physical therapist, wife, and mother in Portland, Tennessee.
Why did you choose Belmont?
I liked that it was a relatively smaller school, the Christian atmosphere, it was close to home, offered me athletic and academic scholarships, and had a course of study I was interested in. Also, I was really impressed by the genuineness of the people I met on my visit there: Jamie Tidwell (AD at that time), coaches, and players.
What is your fondest athletic memory at Belmont?
There are so many! I remember having fun with my teammates travelling in the vans to play, going to California, playing in the Hall of Fame Stadium in OKC, wins over teams we weren't supposed to beat like Indiana, and working hard and getting better at something that was really important to me. Probably my favorite memory is from the night before my first start as a freshman pitcher. My good friend and catcher, Kim (Stanfill) Parsley, was even more excited about it than I was for me to "get the nod" against Bethel College and wrote me a really nice letter encouraging me. Prior to that, she (and other upperclassmen) decided that my introverted, soft-spoken, 5'3" frame was not commanding enough to survive as a college pitcher, so they initiated me with some friendly "assertiveness training", and we continued to play practical jokes on each other in the dorms all year long.
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Belmont and how?
My family. They were always supportive and encouraging, my parents and boyfriend (now husband) came to all the home games they could and often travelled to watch me play out of town. Also the coaches. They always made us work hard and had faith in us even when we were up against a much better team.
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Belmont?
The importance of relationships with God and others. Also I matured and grew personally a lot during that time. The day I signed to play for Belmont, my high school team lost the regionals (and I had fully expected us to return to the state tournament). I was devastated and had a hard time getting past that because I felt like my career was over and there was nothing left for me (even though I knew I would be playing in college). By the time I played my last college game, I was sad that it was over, but I didn't feel like my life was over, because I had grown in my relationships. Softball was a part of me, but it didn't define me as a person. I had a better relationship with God and I was able to trust in Him rather than just my own abilities. I had confidence that He would sustain me and I didn't feel like there was a gaping hole there once softball was finished. Even though I no longer got to do something that I enjoyed, I had a deeper peace about things and more direction for my life.
What advice would you give to current members of the softball team?
Enjoy it, it goes by so fast! It really was a wonderful time in my life. I loved playing the game, I loved doing something that gave me confidence and that I felt like I was good at, I loved my teammates and coaches, and I still like watching it and working on fundamentals with my kids in the backyard.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
Dr. Bill Bandy and Betty Wiseman (and a shout out to Dr. Halle and the other PT faculty). They were real, genuine, kind, down to earth, and interested in you as a person. Plus, they would help you with anything you needed.
Where do you live now?
Currently in Portland, TN, but we are building a house in Goodlettsville and will be moving in the next couple of months.
What is your occupation?
I work part time as a Physical Therapist for NuLife Physical Therapy in Portland. I evaluate and treat patients with primarily orthopedic injuries/problems in an outpatient setting to help them gain better movement, strength, and functional ability, and have less pain with their daily activities.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to my sweetheart Dave for 16 years, we have five children: Jakob (13), Emily (10), Abbey (8), Matthew (5), and Andrew (2). We stay busy chasing the kids around and helping them pursue their interests, which currently include football, softball, gymnastics, and playing in the backyard. We also get together with my extended family almost every week, and I love that our kids are able to connect with them and have great relationships with their grandparents and cousins.
If you are a former Belmont student-athlete and would be interested in taking part in our spotlight series, email John Langdon at firstname.lastname@example.org.