Bree Thurman and the rest of the Lipscomb Lady Bisons started the Atlantic Sun Softball Championships Wednesday afternoon at Draper Diamond. The Lady Bisons are playing on their home field, but it has still been a busy week. Being busy is nothing new for Thurman who has balanced NCAA Division I softball with a degree in accounting. She found a few moments to talk with Lipscombsports.com about her future after softball in an edition of “Where are they going?”.
Accounting is one of the most difficult majors at Lipscomb University. Balancing the challenges in the classroom with playing softball on a high level in NCAA Division I raises the bar even higher.
LU senior center fielder Bree Thurman has been driven to compete on a high level on the field and in the classroom. She earned Atlantic Sun All-Conference All-Academic honors with a 4.0 in accounting. She was the only player represented on the team with a straight-A average.
Thurman admits it hasn’t been easy. She often had to decide to sleep or study. That is a choice many students make, but Thurman also had to be physically and mentally ready to practice softball each afternoon.
“I honestly didn’t sleep,” Thurman said. “Most nights I was up until 3 or 4 in the morning. I chose my grades over sleeping because I knew it would pay off. After a while you get used to it.”
The Lady Bisons started play Wednesday in the Atlantic Sun Softball Tournament at Draper Diamond. The winner of the double-elimination tournament earns a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Thurman is a co-captain and the only active senior on the team.
Thurman is scheduled to start an internship in the tax department with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in Nashville May 13. But if all goes well in the tournament she might be playing in the NCAA Regional around that time.
“They said they would work around the softball season,” Thurman said. “I told them about that during the interview. They understood.”
The HCA internship might lead to a permanent job offer. Thurman’s grades qualify her for a possible position with one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. It is a practice to offer accounting jobs a year in advance. She has another year to evaluate her future since she will be at Lipscomb one more year to earn a M.Acc. degree, which is a masters.
She switched to accounting as a major this past summer. She completed all of the courses required for an accounting major in one academic year.
Thurman started out as a marketing major at Lipscomb, but after taking Principles of Accounting under Dr. Jeff Mankin she decided to switch her major.
“I had no interest in accounting until I took Dr. Mankin’s basic accounting classes my junior year,” Thurman said. “He was a lot of fun. Accounting was fun. I didn’t think it would be that difficult for me. I am good with numbers and with thinking. I am not so much of a creative person so marketing probably wasn’t the best field for me.
“I had done a lot of marketing stuff in high school. It was a lot of fun and I was attached to it. But when I started looking at the real world I didn’t think I would have many career opportunities. I knew with accounting I would walk right into a career.”
Many of her upper division classes were taught by Charles Frasier, the academic chair of the department of accounting, finance and economics.
“Mr. Frasier is just an awesome man,” Thurman said. “He has been a good influence. The way he is, and who he is, makes being an accounting major here pretty worthwhile. In class he will just start talking to you about life. He goes beyond accounting in his classes.”
Frasier is equally as impressed with Thurman and what she has accomplished in the classroom and on the field.
"Bree is one of our very outstanding accounting students," Frasier said. "She has just completed a very challenging academic curriculum with Intermediate Accounting and Federal Income Taxes and has remained at the top of the class, even while participating in a very busy and successful softball season. We are very proud of her!
While many students coast through their senior year, Thurman found this spring semester to be extremely difficult. Her course load included Business Policy and Strategy, Auditing and Intermediate Accounting II.
“I had a few breaking points this year,” Thurman said. “This spring I probably had the three hardest classes an accounting major could ever have.
“Dr. (Perry) Moore taught Auditing. He just challenges you like none other. I appreciate that. I like teachers that make you work really hard. He is tough but he is willing to work with you.”
Joe Ivey taught the Business Policy and Strategy class. Thurman also found that class to be a challenging one as well.
“That class was a doozy,” Thurman said. “It is the hardest stuff I have ever had in my life.
“Every day we had group assignments and individual assignments. I learned more in that class than I probably have in any class. There would be days when I would be at practice and thinking about having to spend seven hours to write a paper, take a shower and go eat dinner.”
Earning a 4.0 has not been an accident for Thurman. She admits that she would be extremely disappointed if she made below an “A” in a class.
“With softball there are a lot of things you can’t control,” Thurman said. “But with academics I am in complete control of that. If I can get an `A’ I am going to get an `A’. I am not going to settle for a `B’ by being lazy. That is just how I am.”
LU softball coach Kristin Ryman knew Thurman’s capabilities as a student when she was recruiting her. She is not surprised that Thurman was able to transfer her academic skills learned at Spring Hill High School into success in the classroom at Lipscomb.
“Bree was a great student when she came to Lipscomb,” Ryman said. “She has always been a smart kid.
“She has always had very high expectations for herself in every area. She studied on the bus and in the hotel. We knew she was going to be in class. We knew she was going to make the grades. We never worried about her. And that is a credit to her.”