Life After the Storm: From home runs to homeroom


TORCH PHOTO / Brenden Willisch

From playing tee-ball in a New Jersey suburb, to traveling around the nation, softball has played a big role in Gretchen Bowie’s life. A fifth-year graduate student, her time at St. John’s has not only pushed her athletic ability, but also motivated her academically to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.  

Fond memories with her mother formed Bowie’s love for softball at a very young age. 

“When I was up at bat my mom wouldn’t let me hit off the tee,” Bowie said in an interview with the Torch. “She said that I don’t need it so she tossed me the ball to hit at-bat.”

Bowie played for her hometown team, the Sparta Diamonds, until she was around 10 years old. After that, she joined a 14U club team nearby called the North Jersey Rocks. The only club team Bowie played for, she stuck with the Rocks for about six years before advancing to the collegiate level. 

At this level, Bowie has made many memories and highlights on the field, with most of these memories stemming from her sophomore year. After coming in freshman year as a shortstop and second baseman, the next season her coaches switched her to centerfield and third base. From this change, Bowie has only further excelled as a player and won a few awards along the way. She was named Big East Defensive Player of the year award during her sophomore year. 

Another highlight for Bowie at the end of her sophomore season after a series against Butler University was being selected Louisville Slugger hitter-of-the-week out of all Division 1 schools. 

When the pandemic hit last March, Bowie worried that it also signaled the end of her college playing career. 

“I was emotionally distraught, to say, for about two, three days after being told the season was canceled,” she said. 

When the NCAA gave every senior athlete another season to play, Bowie knew she was not going to pass it up. 

“I was so ecstatic,” she said, “and there was not a question in mind I was coming back.”

Softball is not the only thing that has impacted Bowie’s years with the Red Storm.

During her undergraduate years at St. John’s, Bowie was an adolescent education major with a focus in biology. The University provided her the opportunity to teach a biology class at a local high school during her last semester – something she had always looked forward to.

These opportunities in the classroom and on the softball field showed Bowie that staying at the University was the best choice —  now she is studying for a Masters of Science in Education for Literacy.

After graduating, Bowie hopes to become a middle school or high school teacher. With her two degrees from St. John’s, she would be able to teach different forms of biology, such as anatomy and physiology.  

“Getting a job right after college for a teacher is very hard,” Bowie said. Regardless of this challenge, she looks forward to the advantages that come with teaching, advantages that draw back to her experience with the Softball team. 

“The perks of [teaching] is the ability to coach,” she said. “I would love to go back and coach not only softball but the other sports I played in high school, [such as] field hockey and basketball.”

From Red Storm Field to Sullivan Hall, Bowie has excelled in pursuing her future plans. She knows that St. John’s has provided her with the right tools to one day become a teacher as well as a coach.