Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 10:21 PM on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dakota Tennison: softball is family, dedication

Mariner Profile

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff writer


Dakota Tennison

For Dakota Tennison, softball is a family sport. She started playing with her parents when she was 5 years old, and it's still one of her favorite things to do.

Tennison turned 16 last week, the same day she had her late father's name and dates tattooed on her right shoulder. A few days later, she pitched the entire game of the Mariner junior varsity's season opener against Kenai.

She's currently the only pitcher on the JV team, where her skills and attitude are great assets.

"She took staying on JV without batting an eye though she is a stronger player than several on varsity," Mariners Head Softball Coach Bill Bell wrote in an email.

Catching fastballs thrown by her dad and stepdad from her early childhood certainly helped Tennison become the player she is today: competitive and competent in any position.

"She's a very good pitcher," said softball and volleyball teammate Brooke De Vaney.

While pitching is Tennison's preferred position, she's also caught and played shortstop for the Ms.

"She's just an all around great player. She's smart about her plays, she knows what she's doing. She is a team leader," De Vaney said.

Tennison has a deep inner drive that motivates without getting too intense. Teammates say that while Tennison doesn't like to mess up or lose, she keeps her head when things don't work out right. Coach Bell calls her focused and pleasant, despite the fact her dad just passed away in Febraury.

"She is battling and persevering. It's impressive to see how dedicated she is," he wrote.

Tennison agrees that she's dedicated, recognizing that she has to be in order to play sports and do well in school. After softball, Tennison enjoys volleyball and basketball. She's also been a runner.

"My whole life's pretty much sports," she said. "It's a good way to try and keep your grades up and stay out of trouble."

For Tennison, playing sports also helps her forget her troubles.

"Even if I'm having a horrible day I can go to practice and everything just goes away. It's somewhere you don't have to think. It just comes to me naturally," she said.

Softball is both nature and nurture to Tennison, who grew up watching her dad, mom and stepdad play in adult league. On and off the field, family plays an important role in Tennison's life.

Though things have changed with the death of her father, Tennison is not going to forget the lessons she learned from her "number-one fan."

"He taught me to be tough," she said.

Named by her father in honor of his aunts' daughter who died at a young age, Tennison does justice to those who have gone before her.

Though the future is big and uncertain at this point, Tennison is sure of a few things. She'll spend the summer hanging out with her 8-year-old brother and working at the Time Bandit store. She'll do a little fishing with her charter-fishing grandfather. And she'll play softball.

Lindsay Johnson may be reached at lindsay.johnson@homernews.com.