Title IX at 50: Softball’s Avery Slancik

Avery Slancik throws a pitch to the plate.
Senior pitcher and neuroscience major Avery Slancik. By Michael Wilson

Editor’s Note: On June 23, 1972, a federal civil rights law was passed that prohibited sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding. Title IX also gave girls and women the equal opportunity to compete in sports across the country. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s passing this summer, Hope College Athletics shares the memories and perspectives from Hope College student-athletes, coaches, and alumnae around the 9th of each month during the school year.

In the eighth installment of our Title IX celebration, softball senior Avery Slancik talks the opportunity to pursue her academic interests, including a neuroscience major, as well as her athletic interests.

Avery Slancik likes to mix her pitches on the softball diamond as well as what she studies in the classroom.

Thanks to the neuroscience program at Hope College, the senior pitcher has found a perfect major.

Slancik is majoring in neuroscience, the scientific study of the nervous system, the most complex organ system in the body. The 2021 All-MIAA First Team honoree also is minoring in both biology and psychology.

“I wanted to study neuroscience. It’s like a mix of everything, biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and psychology — everything into one, which I think makes it amazing,” Slancik said. “Everything stems from the brain.”

Hope’s neuroscience program is made up of a variety of associated departments that work well with the study of neuroscience, creating a melting pot for interested students.

After graduating, Slancik plans to enroll into Physician Assistant school.

This spring, the Scotts, Michigan, native pitches the first game in doubleheaders for the Flying Dutch this season. The right-hander and three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll has a career record of 16-6, including four victories this season. 

With Slancik’s help, Hope is off to an 11-5 start to the season, including a 2-0 mark in MIAA play. The Flying Dutch were MIAA co-champions last season.

Transformational Opportunity

Avery Slancik

Slancik is grateful for the ability to pursue her academic and athletic interests in college. 

Accommodations made by head coach Mary Vandehoef and Hope professors are greatly appreciated, Slancik said.

“If I was at any other school, I wouldn’t be able to study neuroscience,” Slancik saad. “Coach still expects me to play amazing and perform amazing in the classroom. The opportunity is pretty awesome. She will let us miss softball in order to go to the classes that we need.”

Meeting student-athletes’ needs in the classroom is a priority, VandeHoef said.

“Academics absolutely come first,” she said. “We had players registering for classes during the games on Tuesday. We have players who miss practice, sometimes whole days of practice, with their academics, needing to take a certain class or needing to take it at a particular time. With certain majors, there are things that are unavoidable. We make it work.”

Seeing student-athletes like Slancik being transformed makes all the effort rewarding, VandeHoef said.

“Avery does everything she does with everything she has,” VandeHoef said. “She excels in the classroom. She is a committed student who puts a lot of work into preparing for what’s next for her. On the field, she competes and gives this team everything she has every time she is in that circle. Our team rallies around that competitiveness.

“To see her balance both and do them at a really high level, that’s great to see.”

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