If you look close enough at a Gators softball player as she steps up to plate, you might see more than just a typical uniform.
Stickers with the Gators logo adorn each player’s helmet, and more seem to be added as each game passes by this season.
The UF softball team took the field on Sunday without one of its senior leaders and the walk…
It’s a new tradition that Florida coach Tim Walton started this year, giving his athletes an incentive by awarding them stickers any time they win player of the game or make a spectacular defensive play.
“It’s a way to try to have a game within the game and keep things fun,” Walton said.
One player who has accumulated a lot of stickers this season is pitcher Kelly Barnhill.
Walton said Barnhill’s sticker collection has come from no-hitters, shutouts, double-digit strikeouts and wins, accomplishments the All-American flamethrower has seen a lot of this season.
“We might have to get her a new helmet,” Walton said with a chuckle.
Barnhill wasn’t sure if she had the most stickers on the team, but since she’s a pitcher and only has one helmet, she only has one place to put her stickers. However, the non-pitching players put their stickers on whatever helmet they were wearing that day that went with the team’s uniforms.
“Maybe I’ll work on getting some other helmets,” she said.
Barnhill specifically recalled Friday’s no-hitter victory over Kentucky as a sticker moment when Walton told her to “do it for the sticker.”
Barnhill thinks it’s a cool way to point out people’s accomplishments and reward them for what they’re doing, especially when the little things get done right.
In Sunday’s game against the Kentucky Wildcats, outfielder Amanda Lorenz caught a ball on the top of the fence when she ran down the play in foul territory, helping Barnhill record an out against the Wildcats.
When asked if she’ll be adding a sticker to her helmet for the play, she quickly replied, “I already got told I get a web-gem sticker.”
Other players, like senior first baseman Kayli Kvistad, think it’s a cool idea. Kvistad said it helps hold the squad accountable and gives all of her teammates an opportunity to receive recognition.
“Not everyone’s a hero for every game,” she said. “Each game is different.”
Walton thinks it’s important to keep things fun and motivated for the team moving forward.
Florida will travel to Athens, Georgia later this week to take on the Georgia Bulldogs for a three-game series starting on Friday.
“We got a million gator head stickers, so we got to find somewhere to put them anyways,” Walton said.