Monona Grove High School softball senior catcher Emma Uschan wants to be a dental hygienist someday, but she also wants to play softball while completing her studies.

Uschan has signed a letter of intent to play college softball at the College of Lake County (CLC) after she graduates from high school in 2021. She made her decision in December.

The College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois plays in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference, which has seven teams in suburban Chicago and northern Illinois. The Lancers had a record of 6-27 in their final complete softball season in 2019. The team played three games in 2020, all losses, before the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uschan said there were many factors that influenced her decision to attend College of Lake County.

“I wanted to be closer to home, keep my expenses low and not incur college loan debt, and I wanted to play ball as a freshman,” she said. “After meeting the coach, touring the college, and practicing with the CLC softball team, this felt like the best route for me. CLC met all my criteria. I get the opportunity to be their starting catcher while getting an education.”

Maureen Galazkiewicz, the head softball coach at CLC, said she liked what she saw in Uschan after she participated in team practices.

“She stepped right in like she knew she fit in college athletics. If she was intimidated at all, it did not show,” she said. “Her talent and athleticism were easily displayed while she caught two of our pitchers; she reacted well to speed changes and movement. The comfort and confidence she has behind the plate will make her a great leader for the infield.”

When Monona Grove’s 2020 softball season was cancelled due to the pandemic, Uschan built up her skills on the field and at the plate while playing for a U18 club softball team, the Poynette Crush. Uschan hit .542 last season with 14 RBIs. She credits coach Matt Ramberg with helping her develop as an athlete.

“He has a deep softball background and has been super in helping me improve my game and my skill sets,” she said.

Uschan also gave credit to current MG softball coach Amanda Klassman and her predecessor Bruce Wuchterl for giving her the opportunity to play varsity softball.

“Coach Klassman helped me be a better team player by having me focus on helping others on the team learn and grow to strengthen the team. She has especially helped me with the community part of the game,” Uschan said. “Coach Wuchterl allowed me to play varsity as a freshman and help MG win its first regional championship ever. This was a big confidence boost for me.”

Aside from playing club softball, Uschan said she has been working out on her own, and participating in hitting and fielding sessions with her father, Christopher.

“With the fall being so warm I hit a lot outside which made it nice,” said Uschan, who had been training with Poynette for upcoming winter indoor tournaments.

After graduating from College of Lake County, Uschan said she plans to work full time as a dental hygienist and participate in softball coaching geared toward youth.

“I am fortunate to be at the level I am. It’s not been easy,” Uschan said. “I have had to continue to work hard to improve. I am excited to continue playing in college as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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