March 20, 2007
There are certain changes people can count on daily: the weather in Berkeley, the stock market, and gas prices. But one change people can't count on is the character of senior outfielder Alex Sutton of Cal's nationally-recognized softball team.
A true country girl in every sense of the word, Sutton still displays and maintains the spirit of a vivacious young teenager with a passion for family and the willingness to help others.
For some, dreams and goals can range from a profession in the medical field to one day hitting in big in Hollywood. But Sutton's dreams and goals differ from the norm. "I don't know. I have a lot of options thankfully. I've always wanted to be a beautician, it's my hardcore passion," admitted Sutton. "I hear from people that, `oh you are going to have a Cal degree and you are going to choose to cut other people's hair!' I believe that you need to stay passionate in life and do the things that you enjoy."
Sutton adopts the philosophy that you shouldn't have to work to live, rather live to work, and hopes others can have the same mentality in life. "I want to have fun what in what I'm doing. I want to be passionate and energetic; I want to enjoy everyday," said Sutton.
Her journey to Berkeley began when her family moved to Gilroy (about 80 miles south from the campus) when she was in second grade. "I was a complete square," joked Sutton. "I come from a family of five -- I'm the oldest (one sister, three brothers). My dad was a cowboy and a bull rider - he wanted that life for us. I learned how to rope, and we had a bunch of farm animals - cows, horses, sheep, goats, and a potbelly pig. Every summer I would never hang out with my friends, I would always be playing with my siblings and building forts," said Sutton.
Eventually her family sent her to Archbishop Mitty, a private school in San Jose, for high school. "I loved it," said Sutton. "They were known for their softball and basketball, and I knew it would help me get into college, being from a private school."
Still though, Cal wasn't on Sutton's radar, as her sights were set on Tennessee. "I really wanted to go to Tennessee because of its rural setting," explained Sutton. "I'm a country girl, and I wanted to be in a country atmosphere." After seeing her No. 1 choice lose a game to Cal, Sutton started to give Berkeley a look. After a trip to Nationals that summer, head coach Diane Ninemire set up an official visit for Sutton. Following her recruiting trip and being around Ninemire, Sutton was sold and decided on Cal. "Berkeley was something that I've never experienced - I really wanted to experience the diversity."
During her freshman year, Sutton was quickly exposed to completely different surroundings than what she was used to back in Gilroy. "I came here and it was a huge culture shock," said Sutton. "I saw different lifestyles and some of my teammates had piercings and tattoos. The first couple of months I was a little unsure. I had a boyfriend back home, so I always went back. I loved being at home and loved the family time. Whenever I got scared, that was my comfort zone."
But it wasn't until last year that Sutton started spending more time in Berkeley. "I never really experienced college life until last year. I really opened up."
And being around Berkeley also opened the door to a new relationship with John Allen, a senior defensive lineman on the football team. Since her time with Allen, Sutton has found a relationship where she can be true to her "country girl" personality. "He wore a cowboy hat on our first date," joked Sutton. Despite Allen's claim that he won both games of pool that night, Sutton firmly maintains that she was the victorious one. "He didn't beat me. I happened to scratch on the eight ball twice. I was annihilating him up to that point. You can't claim victory when you still have all of your balls on the table!"
But it's more than just a friendly/competitive game of pool which makes Sutton so happy being with Allen. It's that they have so much in common. "He's introduced me to a lot. He took me off-roading," explained Sutton. "I've done a lot of stuff with him that I've always wanted to do, but didn't know anybody that wanted to do them as well. His family is great, and he has his head on straight."
With the season near the halfway point and conference play just around the corner, Sutton doesn't seem scared of life after Berkeley, as she might have been three years ago. Sutton, the lone senior on the team this year, has adopted the role of a team leader and a role model for the younger players on the squad. "Having a younger team this year has made me focus on being a positive, inspirational leader," said Sutton. "I'm trying to let them know that it's okay to fail, as long as you learn from it, and turn your failures into positives."
And it may be that Sutton builds that leader type mentality into becoming a teacher or coach after her playing days. "I love helping kids," said Sutton. "I would love to coach in the Special Olympics - coaching, teaching, and just making a difference in a child's life."
Whether it's her undercover desire to be a beautician or educating a child's life, there is little doubt that Sutton will change someone else's life...just not her own.