Former Softball Pitcher Fisher Praises Bruin Experience
The letter below was received by University President Mary Hawkins from Kelli Fisher, an award-winning pitcher for the Bellevue University softball team. During her athletic career, Fisher received multiple athletic and academic awards, and was BU’s all-time wins leader, with 89 career wins. Fisher earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in 2016. Today, Fisher works as a Relationship Manager for First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha. She also serves as a Graduate Assistant Coach for the Bruins.
Dear President Hawkins,
I just wanted to reach out and say thank you. I feel so honored that my college experience was spent at Bellevue University and I would love to share my story.
From the very beginning to six years later, my experiences with Bellevue University have been so unique and special. Coach Cimino began recruiting me to play softball at Bellevue University when I was just a junior in high school. Being that young, I had no idea what I was looking for in a college. I sat down and decided that I wanted to stay close to home, I wanted a university that had a strong business program, I wanted to play softball, and quite honestly, that was it. After a few great conversations with Coach Cimino, I realized that Bellevue would be a good fit for me. However, what completely sealed the deal was Coach Cimino and Coach Kelly Cheshier. They were unlike any of the other college coaches I talked to (and I went on a lot of visits). They invested in me from the very beginning. They came to my high school softball games, they got to know my family, and they communicated with me frequently – and this was all before I had even agreed to join the team! They were both transparent and honest about what they could offer me and what role I would play on the Bellevue team. What was even more amazing was that after I committed, they never stopped showing their support for me. To this day, I consider Coach Cimino and Coach Kelly great friends of mine. They truly played a huge role in my growth from a child into the woman I am today. I am so thankful for them.
I cannot even begin to describe how much fun I had with the Bellevue University softball team. I learned about work ethic, determination, overcoming adversity, teamwork, time management, responsibility, leadership, confidence, passion, and so much more. I created memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Those girls and all of the people involved with the program (coaches, parents, trainers, etc.) have become like family to me. I am so proud to have worn the Bellevue University jersey and have it hung up on my wall as a constant reminder of those memories and life lessons.
As an athlete, one of my favorite things to do was take potential recruits on campus tours and out to lunch. It gave me a chance to share my great experiences and give them an inside look at what it’s like to be a Bruin. Growing up in a small town I loved that Bellevue had a small school feel on campus. Bellevue University definitely had the advantages of a small school but great luxuries of a large university. We were always given top of the line education, tools, and resources. And I can’t even count how many times people would complement our team and say we had the best uniforms and gear in our division. It truly was the best of both worlds.
Another thing I would share with recruits is how much I enjoyed being a student at Bellevue University. I loved that all of my professors knew me by name and that my classes were just the right size so that I could meet new classmates and still get individual attention/assistance from professors. I never felt overwhelmed when I was traveling with the softball team because I knew that all of the information I needed would be available online or that my professors were a phone call away. This was a great bonus. As for my Master’s program, I could not be any more pleased. I loved the accelerated cohort and enjoyed the residential and online work. I definitely feel that my undergrad and graduate programs prepared me well for the work world.
Campus life was great and our softball team always made it to the many different events. I have so many funny memories of dunk tanks, lip sync battles, dodgeball tournaments and more. Wherever I was on campus, I was greeted with a smile. Whether I was meeting with the academic advisors, receiving rehab from the athletic trainers, giving Doreen a wave in the athletic department, or getting help from One Stop – I have always enjoyed the genuine relationships that are built at Bellevue University. I especially appreciate Ed Lehotak, all of the coaches from the different sports teams, and the training staff for personally investing in me, taking me under their wings, and constantly guiding me to be my best. It’s very impressive to have such a strong culture that individuals feel so connected to one another’s success. Another thing that made my experience so special and unique was the wide variety of students and staff. I loved the diversity. I met so many different students and athletes from different countries and states. My friends back home never believed me when I told them how closely I interacted with such a diverse crowd. It’s been an honor to see BU continue to grow. I am so proud to currently be a Resident Assistant in our new dorms. I have had the opportunity to live in a building with all international students. Wow! What a rewarding, learning experience! It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a piece of their Bellevue journey.
In every athlete’s life, there comes a time when you realize that you can’t play forever. When I began to think about my life after Bellevue University, I didn’t know what I was going to do. With no hesitation, Coach Cimino helped me get an internship with her sister Carrie Zoucha at First National Bank. This internship has led to a dream career at the bank. Not only did my coach help me find this opportunity, she has supported me every step of the way. When I was an athlete, she always worked with my schedule. She has continued to be flexible and supportive even now as I balance my career and helping coach Bellevue softball this spring. I will never be able to thank her enough for always believing in me and being so selfless all of the time. Just like many of the people I have met at Bellevue University, she is truly one of a kind. I strive to make impacts on people – whether it’s the international students at the dorms, the BU softball team, my co-workers, or the little girls I coach – because I’ll never forget how much BU’s impact changed my life.
Finally, President Hawkins, I just want to say thank you again for all that you do. I’m sure you don’t hear that enough. I have loved getting to know you and it’s truly a joy every time I see you. Every step of the way, my first impressions at BU have been unique and genuine, and that goes for the first time I met you, as well. Your support and involvement in the University, especially in athletics, is remarkable. At what other college can you sit next to your President at a basketball game? You have a university that is full of amazing people and this institution is changing lives. I wish nothing but continued success for Bellevue University and all of the people involved in it. I beam with pride when I tell people that I went to Bellevue University.
Once a Bruin, Always a Bruin!
Kelli Fisher, Class of ‘16