SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – Walking across a stage to receive a diploma is what most students envision when they think about how to signify the completion of their academic journeys. However, for Evangel’s senior softball players, their stage became home plate and their backdrop the baseball diamond.
This year, EU’s softball team advanced to the Heart of America Athletic Conference softball tournament, held in Cedar Rapids, IA – with just one caveat. The tournament was scheduled the weekend of EU’s annual commencement ceremony on May 7.
Given the tournament location, EU Head Softball Coach Jay Halbrook and the team came up with a unique plan.
“We took our team to the “Field of Dreams” movie site and hosted a graduation ceremony for them there,” said Halbrook.
“When I found out that I wasn’t going to be at graduation, I was a little upset. However, after Coach Jay told us that we were doing a ceremony on the Field of Dreams, I got really excited. How many people get to say they graduated on the Field of Dreams?” said Michaela Castleberry, senior EU softball player.
“It’s something that I’m going to remember forever and be able to tell my children.”
Halbrook and his staff went the extra mile to make his seniors feel honored on their special day.
“We secured a DVD of the movie for our players to watch, brought along extra cameras to capture the memories, and created diploma folders to present to each senior. Several parents made the trip to Iowa to celebrate their students with us,” said Halbrook.
Graduating seniors donned their traditional caps and gowns for the ceremony, but sneakers replaced dress shoes as they walked across the field to receive their diplomas.
“We are so proud of these young ladies. They are great examples of student athletes who always put their academics first,” said Halbrook. “We were happy to provide them with the opportunity to experience a graduation ceremony, and to be able to do that on the Field of Dreams ball field was a really neat experience.”
Several events have been held on the Field of Dreams, but this is the first graduation ceremony.
Graduating senior softball players included:
- Brooke Perry
- Kristyn Stocks
- Kami Holt
- Bridget Rippe
- Hailey Lange
- Jenna Halbrook
- Marissa Lokey
- Ashlie Marshall
- Michaela Castleberry
Evangel and its seminary hosted a joint graduation ceremony at JQH Arena in Springfield on Friday, May 7.
The university celebrated 544 graduates who earned 25 doctoral, 130 master’s, 344 bachelor’s and 45 associate’s degrees.
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.