Mercyhurst's McQuestion battles through adversity
by Matthew Ondesko, Owner/Publisher
Photos: Mercyhurst Athletics
It’s not easy being a college athlete. No one really knows the hours an athlete puts in to be the best at their trade. It is countless hours in the weight room. Countless hours on the diamond just to hopefully crack the lineup.
In high school, you didn’t have to put in that work. Your athleticism was better than most that you were playing again. In college, it’s complete different. It’s the best of the best. Everyone that was recruited to play for the school was the best at their high school.
The competition is fierce, and that’s only the athletic side of it. Now, you are trying to figure out what you want to do with your life outside of college. Softball is only there for four, maybe five, more years.
There has to be a senesce of purpose as to what an athlete wants to do when their playing days are finally over. They are trying to project forward to see where their life might be. School and athletics is no easy task for college students. All the studying and for test, and getting ready to play games can be exhausting at times both mentality and physically.
Mercyhust College senior softball player Chloe McQuestion knows all too well what it’s like to have to juggle both academics and athletics. The senior is a double-major at the college while also starring on the softball field.
When looking for a school, McQuestion was looking for the right fit for her. She heard so many times from other coaches that she wouldn’t be able to juggle both her major and play softball at the same time.
“So as a biochemistry major and Spanish minor, it has been challenging balancing softball and other extracurriculars. When I had initially looked at schools to play for, I was told several times that premedical majors and Division II athletics are not necessarily a good combination, especially from other coaches,” stated McQuestion. “Coach Baker and Mercyhurst have given me the opportunity to strive for both. I had to learn sacrifice and time management quickly, but by pushing myself, I found success in both dreams of mine.”
It hasn’t come easy at times for McQuestion. There were times where she doubted herself, and might has bitten off a little more than she could chew. Having one major is hard enough, but two was even harder.
It because a receptive cycle, get up, study, go to class, lift, softball and repeat There were times she had to cancel plans with friends just so she could keep up on her studies. In the short team it was frustrating. In the long term she knew everything that she was doing now was going to pay off in the end.
It was just getting to the light at the end of tunnel.
“When I was taking the Medical College Admissions Exam, I remember that I began to struggle. I was blessed to have a fellow student push me academically, but I think one of the most difficult things came from going through this by myself,” stated McQuestion. “I would wake up before classes, study for a few hours, go to classes, go to practice and lift, study, and sleep. I would repeat this cycle for months, and it got repetitive, and I knew if I had just given up either my major or softball, I would be able to hangout with friends or simply just excel in one or the other. I also knew that I would never allow a circumstance to deter me from my dreams. Every time I had to cancel plans or stay up all night, I reminded myself that this work will pay off, and that got me through the challenging times. Giving up was simply not an option for me.”
However, all work and no play could have a negative effect on someone. McQuestion knows what it’s like to go through mental illness, as she stated she is a victim of it herself. Maybe a few years ago that wouldn’t be a cool thing to admit.
Athletes are supposed to be tough - and counted on. Admitting a problem, or issues, could have had negative results. But, that was then and this is now. Ever since the pandemic two years ago, people have taken a step back to check on themselves. It has given them time to say wait a minute I need help, or I am having trouble coping.
McQuestion has battled the demons and has become a better person for it.
“I will not lie and say that I have faced these years with all happiness and joy. As a victim of mental illness, myself, I know the pain and the challenges that come with battling internal struggles,” stated McQuestion. “When times got hard and my stress was high, I sometimes neglected my own personal needs, in order to be successful in other areas. Throughout this, I found that I cannot give 100 percent and be successful in both academics and athletics, if I am not mentally stable. This acknowledgement pushed me to not only be healthier and mentally sound but allowed me to give my all in every aspect as well. Overcoming these battles is due to my faith.”
The two years on the field has been where McQuestion finds her happy place. You couldn’t say that was true her first years. Her freshman year was tough because she never really saw the field. It wasn’t easy breaking through there lineup and McQuestion saw her playing time very limited.
During her sophomore season, McQuestion though she would have that breakthrough season she was hoping for, but an injury derailed her season. She dedicated her herself that offseason to getting better, working on everything that she needed to work on to be successful.
t has paid off over the past two years, including being named to the second-Team All-PSAC West as a second baseman. The honor was almost a validation that she could play softball at the highest level.
“Honestly, it was difficult. My freshman year, all I wanted to do was be on the field, and for most of the games I was not. My sophomore year, I was injured and remained on the bench. Throughout these two years though, I worked harder in my life than I ever have before. Almost every single day, I would go in and get extra reps and extra swings, because I knew that when I did get my chance, I was going to give it my all. So for me, it was my dedication and hard work that began to pay off. I knew I had to leave my fear of failure behind and I recognized that if I give everything I have in that moment, no one could ask anything more. God gave me the confidence and strength to push myself and not ever settle,” stated McQuestion. “Honestly, I was shocked, but extremely grateful. I was shocked because confidence has always been a struggle for me, but knowing that others saw my dedication and my work ethic, I grew in that aspect. I always hear ‘hard work pays off,’ and I truly felt that it finally was showing last year. I told and continue to tell myself that if a ball is hit anywhere in my vicinity, I was going down trying. I owed it to my pitchers and my team to do everything I can to keep the ball in front of me.”
McQuestion is a self describe head case. While most players will be on the field working on their hitting or fielding, McQuestion made sure she took the extra time to work on her mental state. She knew she had the tools to compete at the Division II level, it was always between the ears with her.
She needed to believe in herself. She needed to believe that she could do it on the biggest stage at the biggest time. The tools are all there, it was more of a question of can McQuestion put it all together.
“I think if you ask any one of my teammates, they would tell you that I am a head-case. My biggest adjustment was not necessarily in my swing or my fielding skills, rather it was all mental for me,” stated McQuestion. “I had to find comfort and peace in that fact that a .300 batting average is great at this level. I had to let go of the fear of failing, of being unsuccessful. I had to gain confidence and find assurance in my skills. I had to learn how to trust God and the talent He blessed me with.”
The talent is there, and so now is the confidence. Even when she wasn’t seeing much of the field her first years, it never stopped McQuestion from pushing herself to be the best. She would be out there taking ground balls everyday, making sure her fielding was top notch when called upon.
She was in the cage taking extra batting practice - waiting for her number to be called. McQuestion will tell you how you practice is how you play in a game. If you go through the motions in practice then you will go through the motions in a game.
McQuestions didn’t want to be that person. She wanted to be the best at whatever she was doing.
“At the end of the day, you practice how you play. I know that if I want to be the best defender out there, I need to work every single day at getting better. I would continue to push my range, try new angles, and find balance in my swing. This year, I wanted to gain muscle and power, so most of my work came in the gym,” McQuestion. “I am confident in my softball talent, but I know there is room for improvement in everything that I do. I made sure when I came back that I was stronger and more focused. I worked on my mental health as well, pushing myself to grow everyday. I knew that I needed to help lead this team to PSAC’s.”
Everything she has gone through in her life is making her a stronger person. McQuestion is happy she played sports growing up. It taught her about success and failure, not giving up when things aren’t going your way.
It taught her about having the drive to go after what she wants, and to achieve her goals no matter the obstacles. There have been times where it was easy for her to give up, to throw in the towel both athletic and academically.
But, that isn’t the type of person McQuestion is. As she starts her journey to becoming a doctor, and every a surgeon, she knows it won’t be easy. She, also knows, she won’t be giving up.
“Sports have given me the opportunity to succeed, to fail, and to push myself every day. Competition, drive, and grit are simply a part of who I am, because of sports. These traits will carry into the medical field and will push me to never settle. They have taught me how to overcome setbacks and never settle,” stated McQuestion. “Being on a team has taught me how to work with different people and how to lead one another to success with my work ethic. These qualities will only help me become the best doctor, hopefully surgeon, that I could ever be.”