Danielle Catalano Shelton was one of the key players for the Lipscomb softball team as it made its final transition from an NCAA Division I Independent to its first ever appearance in the Atlantic Sun Tournament in Boca Raton, Florida in 2005.Her honors included being named NCAA Independent Pitcher of the Year in 2003. She still misses her time on the field, but she stays busy with one of the most challenging jobs anyone can tackle - being a stay-at-home mom for her three children and taking care of her husband, Dr. John Luke Shelton, a dentist in Manchester, Tennessee. She spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com about her memories of Lipscomb.
What years did you play softball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 2001 through 2005. My coaches were Amy Becker, Andy Mankin and Andy Lane. My senior year Kristin (Peck) Ryman and Cheryl Smith were interim coaches.
"I was a pitcher. I got two at bats my whole college career. I put the ball in play, but I made an out both times."
What made you decide to attend Lipscomb?
"When I came to the campus on my visit I really loved the school. I loved that it was small. All your teachers knew who you were.
"I loved the softball program. All of the girls were close. Everybody looked out for each other. It didn't feel like going to a big school where you don't get to know anybody really well.
"Of course, it was a Christian college. That really drew me there.
"We couldn't play in the postseason my first two years. I guess, since playing college softball was such a different level anyway, the transition didn't really affect me as much. I just enjoyed getting out there and playing.
"My last two years we were eligible for the postseason. Everything was really ramped up more. It was so much more exciting. We had more goals to reach for as a team other than just playing games day-to-day."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"On Senior Day in 2005 we played Alabama. I remember thinking about that before we played the game. It was a little frustrating because it was going to be such a tough game. They were so good. They were ranked.
"We ended up coming out on top 4-2. I pitched really well. I remember how exciting it was having a great win in our last home game."
You were a participant in the 20th year celebration of Lipscomb softball this season. Did you expect the program would be at the level it is now?
"Every year we got better and better when I played there. I knew with Coach Peck (Ryman) taking over she was going to take the program even further. She was an amazing player.
"I am not surprised with how well the program has done. But, at the same time, I am surprised with how quickly she was able to get things going.
"She had a huge love of the game as a player. She knew everything about it. She was always a really smart person anyway, but when it came to playing softball she went above and beyond working as hard as she did and being the best player she could possibly be. She has transferred that into her coaching. She has done an amazing job."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"I would say my fellow pitchers - Sara Meek, Hillary Gipson and Carissa Lowery. As a pitcher you have to go out every time and pitch your best game. I was always told you are only as good as your last game. That is how people remember you.
"You know that when you go out there. You always want your fellow pitchers to be at the top of their games so if you are having a bad game you want one of the other pitchers to come in and bail you out if you mess up.
"You want to do well and pitch a lot. There is a lot of competition but there is also comradery with the other pitchers on the team. When you do mess up they are going to be the ones who are going to be there and back you up.
"That was probably the biggest thing for me- being really close to them and always knowing they had your back. Even when you did something bad your team was there to pick you up and was constantly talking to you and encouraging you.
"I told my husband the other day how much I miss being on that field. I miss the little routines like throwing the ball around the horn after an out, the high fives and all of the different things that we did."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"Almost every week I would get together with a couple of my friends (Karen Shyers and Megan Olsen) and we would order Chinese food and watch a movie. Usually it was a Wednesday or Thursday night each week, but during the season it didn't happen as much.
"We would go to Blockbuster and rent a movie. Any time I order Chinese food now I always think about that and think of my friends."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"No matter how hard things get or how complicated things get you should try to keep a level head and really think things through before making any rash decisions.
"I always think that no matter what happens you should step back and think before you say or do anything. You should try to figure out what is best, not just for you, but for everybody else."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I really liked Dr. Earl Lavender, one of my Bible teachers. He made you really think about things more than any teacher I had before. I had him for a few different classes.
"His classes were more in depth. I learned things about my Christian faith, not just basic run-of--mill stuff. He taught us to dig deeper into our souls and figure out what you really believe and why you believe what you believe."
Where do you live now?
"We are back in my hometown of Manchester."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am a stay-at-home mom. I get to stay home with all three of our kids.
"I was a psychology major at Lipscomb and I minored in art."
Tell us about your family.
My husband, John Luke Shelton, is a dentist. We got married right after I finished college. He had just completed his first year of dental school so I moved with him to Memphis and worked until he finished dental school.
"We have three children, two boys and a girl. Owen is the oldest. He is seven. Maddux is five. And Evie is six months old."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.