UI law student retires after eight years on Great Britain's national softball team
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stacie Townsend might be the only University of Iowa law student who knows all the lyrics to "God Save the Queen."

That’s not surprising, since she’s heard the song hundreds of times over the past eight years while competing for Great Britain’s national softball team, scattering her enemies and making them fall. It came in especially handy before one game, when the sound system conked out in the middle of the anthem.

“Everyone on the team just kept on going,” says Townsend.

The second year UI law student wrapped up her international softball career this July, playing for the British national team at the World Softball Tournament in Whitehorse, Canada. The team was happy and glorious and twice victorious, finishing with a 2-5 record, including a no-hit victory over Chinese Taipei.

“We didn’t have any consistency,” says Townsend. “We no-hit a really good team in Chinese Taipei, but then we played bad games against Italy and New Zealand.”

But Townsend was named to the all tournament team, long to reign over us as one of the 16 best softball players in the world.

“I had a good tournament,” she says modestly.

Townsend grew up in Orlando, Fla., but since her father is from Great Britain she has dual citizenship that makes her eligible to compete for his homeland in international competitions. She’s not the only American on the team, as about half the roster is composed of dual citizen Americans, which is what you have to do to fill out a competitive team for a country where not many people play softball. Although the game has roots in Britain as the grandchild of the English game of rounders, most English would rather play cricket if they have to play a game with a bat and ball.

Townsend played college softball at the University of Texas in El Paso, where she set most every pitching and batting record for the school while earning her B.A. and MBA with 4.0 GPAs and earning recognition on several All-Great Athlete and All-Ridiculously Smart Person teams. In 2010, she was a finalist for the Division I NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Townsend said she came to the British team’s attention when she was still in high school attending a clinic conducted by the team’s coach. When the coach met her father and heard him speak, he thought he had a roster addition.

“My dad still has a thick, heavy accent and the coach asked him where he was from, and when he found out I had a passport, he recruited to me to play for the team,” she says. “It was a great honor to play for the country that represents half my family’s heritage.”

Townsend played in three world tournaments, four European championships, two World Cups, and countless qualifiers for Britain. She would have played in the Olympics this year in London, as the host team gets an automatic berth in the tournament, but softball was dropped as an Olympic sport after the 2008 games.

She retired from the team after the world tournament to focus on her legal education, to defend her laws and ever give us cause. Townsend’s life so far begs several possible career directions: with her MBA, business and corporate law make sense; with her global softball experience, international law is an obvious choice. But she is still only in her second year of law school and prefers to keep an open mind about her career path, a career she became interested in after conversations with her father’s immigration attorney.

“I’m good at problem solving and I like to write and he suggested I consider law school, so I followed his counsel and so far it’s worked out well,” says Townsend, and her experience as a world-class athlete seeking to frustrate their knavish tricks hasn’t hurt, either.

“I’m a competitor, I like the adversarial system," she says, whether that's doing what’s best for your client or throwing heat at a batter for strike three.