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Sibling bond, athletic success characterize McGarvie’s Concordia experience

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 9, 2023 in Softball

Some brothers and sisters steer clear when it comes to influencing the college decision of a sibling. Not Caitlyn McGarvie – and she’s not afraid to say so. When the Lincoln North Star High School product came upon Concordia University, her recruiting visit to the campus represented her first, and also her last. Caitlyn saw no reason to look any further.

Born 23 months prior to her younger brother DJ, Caitlyn may have actually been the lead recruiter on Concordia’s now record-setting quarterback.

“Me and DJ have always been really close,” Caitlyn said. “It’s been a fun relationship. I really tried to push him to come here. I told him how much I loved Concordia and about the (small) class sizes. The professors here are very kind and they care about you. The athletics and facilities are great here. I really tried to push him here because I wanted to continue to have that relationship with him. It’s been pretty good. I love it.”

Concordia loves it too. Both McGarvies have become standout talents and leaders within their respective sports. While DJ racked up a school record 2,553 passing yards this past fall, Caitlyn can stand on her own merits having been named First Team All-GPAC on the softball diamond in back-to-back seasons. To be sure, they share in each other’s successes. As DJ put it in an October 2021 interview, his college decision was partly “based off her.” He added, “I knew she would be here for me.”

Being there to watch each other succeed has made Caitlyn’s Concordia journey that much more rewarding. There’s more to it than that. Caitlyn has enjoyed the community feel and her relationships at Concordia and knows she’s gaining the knowledge and expertise to realize her dream job of becoming a pharmacist. As a softball player, Caitlyn really took off in 2022 when she batted .390 with a .483 on-base percentage as one of the top outfielders in the GPAC.

First-year Head Coach Brock Culler can’t help but rave about what he’s seen from McGarvie. On a late January day this preseason, Culler observed McGarvie raising her game to even higher levels. Said Culler at the time, “That kid was on a different planet this morning with the things she was doing. She’s going to be an outstanding player. There’s no question. She has a lot of talent, a lot of drive and a lot of passion. It’s going to be fun to watch her this spring.”

A link back to the 2021 national tournament Concordia Softball team, McGarvie opens the 2023 campaign needing five hits for 100 in her career. She entered the program looking up to the likes of older teammates such as Tori Homolka, Jenessa Jarvis, Camry Moore and Kylee Nixon. Now McGarvie is in the position of being viewed as one of the Bulldogs who sets the standard for everyone else. With her all-around game, McGarvie can spray hits all over the field, get on base, steal bases and use her speed to track down would-be hits in the outfield.

McGarvie is modest in explaining her own success. She took her time as a freshman (appeared in 11 games) before flourishing as the team’s every game left fielder as a sophomore and junior. Said McGarvie, “It goes back to my teammates pushing me and coaches always pushing me. I try to go in and get extra reps. I have teammates beside me always saying, ‘C’mon, let’s get this.’”

The chemistry major got her start in the game by playing catch with her father. She also says she has on occasion caught footballs fired by her brother DJ. The bonding time shared with family helped foster a love for competition.

Said Caitlyn, “I’ve always done all the sports – soccer, softball, basketball. From a young age, my dad taught me how to throw. I felt like I just kept going back to that. It’s something my dad and I did in our free time. As I grew older, I had to choose between volleyball and softball. I loved softball – everything about softball and being outside. I loved it and I continued to build that relationship with my dad, throwing and playing catch with him every day. I stuck with softball and that’s kind of how I grew into it.”

While there will be a touch of youthfulness to the lineup this season, McGarvie will surely be counted upon for the type of production she supplied last spring. She’s seen what it takes for a team to come together and play at a national tournament level. McGarvie helped the 2021 team to a 32-13 overall record and a trip to Chickasha, Okla., for the NAIA opening round.

Said Caitlyn of that experience and what she’ll remember about it, “The atmosphere overall and my teammates. Some of my best friends come from that team. Not everyone gets that experience. It was something way different than you could ever imagine. Being able to go to nationals, that’s a big deal. It was something I never experienced before.”

The ride in ’21 was simply part of the Concordia journey for Caitlyn, who says the combination of academics and athletics was the “perfect fit.” Everything fell into place, including the chance to star alongside her brother. There are some things that run in the family. Says Caitlyn of DJ, “He’s always put his work in and been very dedicated. He’s the type of person who works hard, and I look up to him for that. That has a lot to do with his success – he’s always wanting to get better.”

A similar desire has made Caitlyn into an accomplished athlete with a bright future ahead, one that includes a chance to continue her education in the pharmacy program at UNMC. That opportunity will come after what promises to be a spring filled with new and exciting memories on the softball diamond.

For Caitlyn, success is better framed within the context of a team perspective. As she says, “I want to show that being a good person can lead to having a great season. I’m really pushing towards that. We’re working with the culture and that’s something that can help us have a great season. We want to work together and be great teammates. I think we have the connection and communication to do that.”