Switzer heading home

Bristol senior to play for Panthers one last time

Tribune Chronicle file photo / Brian Yauger Bristol senior Kendyl Switzer, center, crosses home plate as her team greets her during the Panthers regional semifinal against Hillsdale.

Kendyl Switzer, for the past four years, has helped the Bristol Panthers succeed in three sports — volleyball, basketball and softball.

Tuesday, she has her final chance to represent Bristol High School in the Bill Sferra All-Star Classic at the Youngstown State University softball complex.

“I’m really excited for it,” Switzer said. “Softball is a love-hate relationship for sure. I know there’s a bunch of other seniors that are feeling the same way. We’re all going to have fun with it. And, I think that’s a great way to end a high school career, because you’re having fun playing a sport that you love.”

Bristol coach Alisha Kugler lofted high praise on Switzer, praising her leadership as well as her athleticism.

“She’s a great athlete and a great leader, on and off the field,” Kugler said. “It’s just a delight to coach a kid like her.”

Tribune Chronicle file photo / Brian Yauger Switzer looks to score from third base during the regional semifinal against Hillsdale. She is playing in Tuesday’s all-star game at the YSU softball complex.

Kugler, who is coaching the Trumbull County squad, is excited to have one last game with Switzer.

“I’m excited to be able to coach her one more time and end off on a positive game where hopefully she can have fun with no pressure,” Kugler said.

The leadership of Switzer played key for the Panthers this season as they won their second consecutive district championship.

“I think she had a really positive impact this year, because players see how hard she works on her successes and I think that just trickles down through the rest of the team,” Kugler said. “It gives them confidence that they can succeed, and she’s someone that they can rely on to start a rally or make a big play in the field.”

Switzer is going to continue to do that at the collegiate level, attending Clarion University to study Early Childhood Education as well as play softball. She plans to use her degree to live out a lifelong dream.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was little,” Switzer said. “I love being around kids and my coaches have always said I’m a leader. I always like to help others. I coach little girls now and I’ve always had such joy helping the younger ones.”

When asked if she could see herself putting her love of sports and her love of teaching together and join the coaching ranks. Without hesitation, Switzer answered.

“Definitely,” she said.

One thing she’ll miss about high school is how close everyone was.

“At a small school like Bristol, you get so close to everybody,” Switzer said. “They’re just one big family. I mean my classes had like 12 kids, so you really know everybody there and you have such a good bond with everybody.”

This is the last time Switzer plays with her sister, Kayla. Kayla is heading to Youngstown State University. The two have played sports for their entire lives, and the transition from being both sisters and teammates to just sisters might be an adjustment.

“We played everything together,” Switzer said. “We did soccer, volleyball, basketball, we literally did everything together all the time. You got used to it over the years, but then you realize how many other people’s siblings never got to play with them.”

The two may not have always seen eye-to-eye, but Switzer appreciated the time two spent together.

“I enjoyed playing with her even though sometimes we didn’t always get along,” Switzer said. “It was fun to know that she was always there. We were always partners in something. It was kind of like having a little piece of home with you always.”

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