Share Your Story: Carri Leto
I played softball at Northwestern University from 2000-04, and I have been known to quote these years as the best four years of my life. Being a student-athlete in the Big Ten is extremely rewarding because you are surrounded by so many talented and driven people, all striving for the same thing you are: success both on the field of play and in the classroom.
Being a part of Northwestern softball was something so incredibly special, and everyone around me felt it. The people I met while at Northwestern have all made a positive impact on my life, and I will cherish them forever. Not only did I make some of the greatest friends out of my teammates, but I also met my future husband who played soccer at Northwestern. I have lasting relationships with my coaches, teachers and athletic staff, and never miss a trip back for Homecoming.
I will never forget the overwhelming support I got from not only the Northwestern community but also the Big Ten family when I got injured my junior year. The entire Michigan softball team signed a "Get Well" card for me. That is when I truly realized what a special conference I was a part of. I will also never forget the intense competition we had with the other conference teams day-in and day-out. No one thought any other team could possibly want the championship more than their own team.
One game especially stands out in my head. At the Big Ten Tournament my senior year, we were losing to Minnesota when the sky opened up and there were massive thunderstorms, flooding the field. The game had to be postponed, and we had to play the last inning of the game very early the next morning. I will never forget that night of sleep because I kept dreaming of how we could potentially win this game and prolong our season and my career. We ended up fighting back and winning the game in extra innings. All of our fans were elated.
I am one of the few fortunate female college athletes that have been given the opportunity to play my sport at the professional level. I have been playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league for the last three years after being drafted my senior year. This past season two of my teammates also played in the Big Ten, and we had a blast reliving our memories of the conference. I still love the game to this day and owe a lot of my passion for the game to my four years at Northwestern playing in the Big Ten Conference.