When she came to the Columbia softball program, it was in its infancy. Now former Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Jackie Adelfio holds every major pitching record at the school... and she has returned to campus.
The Columbia University softball program should send a gift to Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, something nice. After all, the Engineering School lured the Lions' greatest pitcher, Jackie Adelfio.
"When I looked into [Columbia's] programs and saw they had an engineering school," explains Adelfio, "I had my mind made up. I contacted the coaching staff and asked if I could play on the team." The softball team didn't recruit Jackie Adelfio, but it seized the opportunity to welcome her.
All Adelfio did was more or less walk off with the Columbia record book for pitching. She holds the record for all-time victories (51), appearances (106), starts (92), complete games (82), shutouts (15), innings pitched (635.0), and strikeouts (497). She's second all-time in ERA (2.13). Adelfio was named Ivy Pitcher of the Year in 2003, and was All-Ivy every season of her career.
The softball team also accommodated her engineering studies. "Engineering classes would meet in the late afternoon, the same time as practice," says Adelfio, "and Coach [Kayla] Noonan would have me pitch in the morning before class. She really helped me deal with these academic conflicts," she remembers, "and was a lot of fun to play for."
Columbia is the latest addition to Ivy softball competition, having started league play in 2001. Adelfio was on hand for the birth of a nascent rivalry with Princeton. "It was a 15 inning game that we won 1-0," she recalls, "and it kind of started a rivalry that we maintained over four years, consisting of a lot of exciting extra inning games with them." Columbia also, with Adelfio's help, quickly established itself as a legitimate Division I entity. "My junior year we lost to LSU 1-0. That was big. They weren't expecting anything from an Ivy League school," she says.
Adelfio also quietly pursued her career passion, civil engineering. Her concentration was in construction management, with a minor in applied math, and she excelled, being named to the ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-District I first team. She also was admitted to Columbia's master's degree program in civil engineering, where she'll be returning this fall for graduate school.
"I interned for Mueser-Rutledge Consulting Engineers (an engineering firm that, among other projects, restored the World Trade Center "Bathtub" retaining wall after the 9/11 attacks), and will work part-time for them during the year," Adelfio says. "They specialize in foundations, marine structures. I love that there are so many different areas [of civil engineering] to study." She plans to graduate in May 2007, get a job, and start studying for her Professional Engineer's license. Longer-term plans? "I can't think that far ahead," she says, laughing.
And though her softball career is over, Adelfio finds her athletic experiences still guide her. "Athletics is essential for any career because it teaches you the importance of time management," she says. Anyone who has had a very tough workout because a teammate showed up late for practice unexcused knows the importance of being on time for everything, and that you don't forget."
"Seeing that I am going back to Columbia this year for my graduate studies is an indication of how much I liked it," concludes Adelfio. "I am happy to be staying in Manhattan and going back to class soon."
— Stephen Eschenbach