When Morgan Decker gets to the fork in the road, she'll take it
It’s the fork that’s the stinking headache.
As in, the one in the road, staring back at her. The one with two awesome paths, two hard paths, two real paths.
Coaching or medicine?
“Definitely, I’m at a crossroads where I could be really successful in either one of those paths,” the Lehigh softball standout said. “But I really think that it’s just making the best choice for me and following what I’m passionate about at this point. And what I could see myself doing and what I could see making me really, really happy for a long time.
“I’ve been talking to my parents about it and everything, to get all the advice I can. I’ll be talking to my coach and my assistant coach and (discuss) their experience in coaching. And I’m lucky to have a lot of resources to allow me to explore both of my options.”
As coin flips go, every side lands with gold face up. The Jamison, Pa., native is the Mountain Hawks’ career leader in home runs (28), opens the week hitting a team-best .439 and slugging a team-high .748. All this while toting a 3.73 GPA in behavioral neuroscience and a C.V. that includes two selections for Academic All-Patriot League team and a spot on the Dean’s List in six of her first seven semesters. She’s within shouting distance of setting new school records for career RBI and career doubles.
It’s a big trophy case — and it’s going to need to get bigger. Yet of all the silverware on Decker’s shelf, the one probably held dearest is the Class of 1904 award, presented by the university last spring. The “Class” honor is presented on the basis of character, scholarship, traits that show potential of future leadership, and extracurricular activities.
“Before I got to college, I never saw that in my future,” Decker said. “But I think the 1904 award makes me (realize) … who I’ve become. And for other people to see that in me, I’m really proud of myself. And that’s amazing. So I’d probably put a little bit more (emphasis) in the 1904 award and things like that because it’s more about who I am.”
So many roads. So many shades. So many influences. Mother Anita played volleyball and basketball at Holy Family University. Father Jeff played football for a spell at Indiana (Pa.) University.
“So I started playing very early,” said Decker, whose competitive softball chops go back to the age of 5. “(I) came from a very athletic family, so athletics were always kind of in my vicinity.”
The gifts were inherited, the skills honed. Respect? Respect was earned. Hawks teammates voted Decker team captain before each of the last two seasons.
“Obviously, it makes me feel great about myself and how I’ve developed as a person,” the infielder said. “And I’m glad that people look to me as a leader and as somebody to look to in tough situations.
“I think I’ve become more vocal as I’ve gotten older and become more confident. I definitely used to be more of a leader by example. I think nowadays, I’m a little bit more vocal than I used to be. And I need to be vocal while on the field.”
Plan A — some days, it’s Plan B — is the path toward becoming a physician’s assistant. Which means internships, certification, practical experience. And, possibly, a gap year.
“Because I played softball, I don’t have as much (hospital time) as I would like to be the competitive applicant I want to be,” Decker said.
Plan B — some days, it’s Plan A — is staying at Lehigh and pursuing a master’s in educational leadership, “because I do want to coach in the future,” she said.
“I think I’ve always wanted to coach in some capacity. I just wasn’t sure how realistic it was. More and more, I’m finding it’s realistic.”
To wit: Princeton softball coach Lisa Van Ackeren is a Lehigh grad, Class of ’09. A light. A bridge. Inspiration.
“(It’s) something I’m really, really passionate about. I love this sport and how this sport has made me,” Decker said. “And I’d love to give that back to somebody else.”
And the big question dangles, still: Coaching or medicine?
What does the heart say?
“I don’t know (what) my heart wants yet,” Decker said after a pause. “I don’t know.”
Either way, a road awaits. Long, winding and wonderful.
Photo courtesy Brent Hugo/Lehigh Athletics