Catís perfect pitch: Success on the diamond and in the classroom
"The Year of the Cat" was a tune crooned in 1976 by Al Stewart and Peter Wood.
Had they composed that song today for one Cat Osterman of The University of Texas softball team, it would have been entitled "The Career of the Cat."
And that's not only in reference to what she has done athletically.
The senior psychology major from Houston has enjoyed a wonderful career off the diamond, which is one reason why she has been selected the Female Student-Athlete of the Month for February.
To wit: Two-time Academic All-Big 12. Four-time Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll. The 2002-03 Darrell K Royal Presidential Scholarship. The 2004-05 V.F. "Doc" Neuhaus Endowed Presidential Scholarship, which is the highest UT Athletics award.
In addition, Osterman is involved in the UT Pen Pal Program, Neighborhood Longhorns and the Christmas Bureau's Adopt-A-Family program. She also was a featured speaker at the 2005 Texas Conference for Women.
"My best story about Cat illustrates her commitment to academics and getting her degree," said Dr. Randa Ryan, senior associate athletics director for student services.
"During the summer before the Olympic softball team was named," Ryan began, "Cat, her parents, Coach Connie Clark, Amy Folan (associate athletics director for compliance) and I met and talked about how we would handle the challenge."
Osterman took the Olympic waiver redshirt for the 2003-04 school year.
"Cat was one of the few Olympic team members who was still in college and would be faced with missing a year of school to travel with the team and train for the Games," Ryan continued. "We selected 12 hours of correspondence classes that would count towards Cat's degree, ones she could work on while she trained and she traveled.
"Cat made the team and she trained and traveled -- and finished her schoolwork. Everyone knows Cat came home an Olympic gold medal winner, but not many know she came home with her missed schoolwork completed and was back on track to graduate this spring.
"That is an amazing story of a true student-athlete who is committed to both the academic and athletic ideals of excellence at the highest level."
Osterman said she appreciated being named the student-athlete of the month and she admitted academic re-entry after the Olympic experience has been challenging.
"I was excited to get back (to school)," said Osterman, who always seems excited because of her upbeat demeanor and endless energy.
"Before the Olympic trip, I was on track to be an Academic All-American," Osterman said. "When I got back, it was so hard to study. When you've been to the Olympics, it's a little difficult to sit back down at the desk and work."
She has adjusted, obviously, and she earned the praise of Dr. Lynda Cleveland, who is a management and information systems professor.
"There were 500 students in the class when I had Cat," Cleveland said. "But she stood out. Her attendance was perfect, except when she had to be out of town with the team. She sat up towards the front and every assignment was turned in on time."
What also impressed Cleveland was that Osterman never tried to "stand out."
"When an athlete comes to my class -- and I have taught a lot of athletes through the years -- in a uniform top, that person is trying to stand out," Cleveland said. "Cat never wore anything to class that said she was an athlete. She looked like a regular college girl.
"Cat Osterman is not a softball player going to college. She is a college student who plays softball."
And that, Cleveland reminds, is not semantics.