Stillman inks Selma softballer

Published 12:24 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When friends and supporters talked about Chelsea Sturdivant on Tuesday, they talked about two Selma High seniors — the athlete and the student.

So when Stillman College decided to recruit the talented shortstop and accomplished scholastic award winner, school officials presented her with two scholarships — athletic and academic.

“I’m very excited,” Sturvidant said about studying nursing at the Tuscaloosa school. “Last year, I went to a summer program at Stillman for a week. It was like an internship. We lived in the dorms and got an idea of what Stillman is like.”

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Talking about softball starts with her family. Her mother, Nadine, and father, Joe Jr., coached Chelsea on Southland Chemical’s 7- to 8-year-old summer league. She won her first softball championship then.

Her first Selma High coach was Johnnie Wells, who directed her from the seventh-10th grades.

“I knew she could do anything; I saw it a long time ago,” said Wells, who played Sturdivant at centerfield, shortstop, third base and pitcher. “She is a very coachable young lady.”

Wells also complimented Sturdivant’s leadership.

“When she plays in the outfield, she coaches the outfield,” Wells said. “When she plays in the infield, she coaches the infield.”

In the ninth grade, Sturdivant fired the softball from centerfield to home.

“If you throw the ball from the outfield to the catcher and it hurts the catcher’s hand,” Wells said, “then you know she can pitch.”

Selma High vice principal Willie Maxey worked to develop her hitting, comparing her to former major leaguer Pete Rose.

“She’s a really scrappy player,” Maxey said. “She’s not a power hitter, but she’s a consistent hitter.”

Other coaches involved in her softball development were Clarence Seymour, who coached her from 9-14 years old in summer leagues; Claire Compton, her current Selma coach; Selma High administrative assistant Jerome Harper, Fred Scott, Charles Neely, Barbara Thomas, Wanda Tyler, and Lynecia Steele.

Sturdivant’s athletic activities include volleyball, where she was team MVP along with softball. Patrick Evans, Selma High athletics director, said Sturdivant will be a role model for other students.

“This is all part of our seven-year plan,” Evans said. “We have had a number of students who went off to school. It’s a way for our current students to follow them and go further with their education. She will be opening doors for other students.”

Senior counselor Lou D. Bryant called Sturdivant “conscientious.”

“She is an excellent student,” Bryant said. “She understands that working hard pays off.”

Sturdivant was in the top 10 of a 218-student graduating class.

“She took the more rigorous courses,” she said. “Through Selma Early College, she earned her high school diploma and an associate degree.”

In academics and extracurricular activities, she was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council president, Science Club, Math Club, WHBB-WDXX Dixie Girl, National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honors.