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Ahern Shines at Bucknell University

Photos courtesy of Bucknell University
By BRIAN CARSON

LEWISBURG – After a stellar academic and athletic career at Mifflin County High School, Olivia Ahern continued both at Bucknell University.

Ahern pursues a degree in chemistry while walking on to the softball team for the Bison.

Now in her sophomore year, Ahern went through the rigors of academic challenges, COVID-19, and the various stresses of being a student-athlete.

She passed the first-year trials with flying colors, earning honor roll status and seeing playing time in softball.

My first year at Bucknell was both exciting and challenging. Last year was full of uncertainty from COVID, making it more difficult than usual,” Ahern said. “Bucknell offers a variety of activities and support for their students, making the school fun throughout the hardest academic weeks. Softball has been a great way to relieve the stress of academics through exercise, team bonding, and competitions.

I thoroughly enjoy my time on the softball team. Now that I am a sophomore, I know what to expect regarding time management, academic rigor, and softball. This year, it has been easier because I now have a routine, rather than last year when COVID disrupted my schedule. Being a sophomore is definitely easier than freshman year.

Ahern quickly discovered there is a massive difference betweenplaying high school and Division I softball.

The biggest difference between high school and college softball is the speed of the game. Pitching is faster, and the balls have greater movement. They hit harder balls and farther, and athletes run faster,” she said. “A college athlete’s schedule is also much more demanding than a high school athlete’s schedule. My biggest learning curve has been the adjustment to faster pitching with more movement.

Ahern was a four-year letter winner at Mifflin County, a 2019 All-Mid-Penn Second Team, and a two-time District 6 All-Star selection. She won the 2019 Jaynee Carolus Outstanding Softball Player Award after being a 2018 runner-up and led the Huskies to two District 6 titles and the 2017 Mid-Penn Commonwealth title. Ahern batted .474 with 45 RBIs and 11 home runs in three high school seasons.

Despite the excellent resume, Ahern knew playing time would be sparse as a freshman. She played in two games last season and looks to get more game action next spring.

While I got little playing time as a freshman, it was nice to see a little action. I was definitely nervous, but it made me excited for future years when I have more opportunities to play,” Ahern said. “To see more playing time next season, I just have to keep working and improving my hitting. Now that I am accustomed to the schedule and have a year’s experience under my belt, I am hopeful I will get more playing time as long as I keep working.

Ahern’s most significant accomplishment of her freshman campaign came when she earned a spot on the Patriot League All-Academic team.

I was definitely proud to make the honor roll as a freshman. My curriculum is extremely challenging, so I felt overwhelmingly accomplished,” Ahern said. Managing athletics and academics is difficult, but it is attainable as long as I complete homework and keep deadlines straight. Some weeks, such as midterm and finals week, were more difficult, but keeping a positive mindset always allowed me to persevere.

After two years of introspection, Ahern has zero doubts that Bucknell was the right choice for her.

I have no regrets about choosing Bucknell. I knew it would be hard as a studentathlete, but I love the campus, professors, people, and opportunities presented at this school. It is exactly what I expected,” Ahern said.

The future looks bright for Ahern. Her goals are challenging yet achievable. It takes hard work, faith, and persistence. Qualities she has in spades.

My overall goals have not changed. I still want to enter the medical field and be the best version of myself in college. Every day, I yearn to do as well as I can in the classroom and on the field,” Ahern said. “When I am done with my journey at Bucknell, I hope to be accepted into medical or physician assistant school. Until then, I am excited about the rest of my college experience as a studentathlete at Bucknell.

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