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Pratt, Stocklinski, and Girard Demonstrate Artistry off the Field and Court

May 4, 2012

KEENE, N.H. 5/1/11 - Seniors Samantha Pratt and Sara Stocklinski, pitchers on the Keene State College softball team, will be the first to tell you that there's an art to throwing a softball. It takes a special ability to unleash a rapid rise-ball or a knee-buckling change-up.

Fellow senior Kristen Girard, a member of the Owl women's volleyball team, will also argue that there's a unique craft in her sport. The right technique and timing is paramount in delivering a stupendous spike or a decisive dig.

The trio also knows about a different type of art. Art majors at Keene State, Pratt, Stocklinski, and Girard have spent countless hours away from the diamond and court refining their graphic design and studio art skills in the classroom. They recently displayed their work at the senior art exhibition at Keene State's L.P. Young Student Center.

Tough to typecast, the three revel in the diversity of their skills, whether it's painting an illustration or painting the corner of the plate with a fastball. "This is who I am," said Girard. "Volleyball is only one part of me."

Athletic and artistic skills don't develop overnight. All three became fascinated with the world of art at a young age. "My mother is an interior designer, so I've been around art my whole life," said Stocklinski from Newtown, N.J. "I took my first graphic design class as a freshman in high school and fell in love with it. I decided right then and there that's what I wanted to do."

There are no rigid boundaries in art - one day a sculptor; the next day a painter. Originally from Bristol, Conn., Pratt threw a change-up when she arrived at Keene State. "When I came to Keene State, I was predominately a studio artist, but my dad is a computer guy and I became enthralled with illustration work," said Pratt, who has a double major of studio art and graphic design.

A talented outside hitter for the Owls, Girard, a Red Hook, N.Y., native, likes to vary her attacks at the net and implements the same philosophy in her art. "A lot of people create their art work on the computer, but I want it to stand out, so I also have the ability to do illustrations by hand," she said.

Each draws inspiration from different areas. Stocklinski says she is inspired by everyday things in her life. "Inspiration is everywhere: you never know when you're going to come across something or what you'll think of next."

Pratt's love for cooking has inspired her work. "I love cooking and I love reading packages. I buy with my eyes," she said. "If I see something that looks nice, I buy it."

Displaying their work like vendors at the market, the three student artists describe some of their favorite pieces. Stocklinski eagerly points out a 3-D room layout for an organization that she made up called Dolphin Haven, which provides safe zones and rehabilitation for dolphins.

A beer called the "spine tingler" piqued the interest of Girard, who produced a series of posters for the brewery.

Some of their projects have actually been used by several local businesses. One of Pratt's' class assignments was to rebrand the YMCA of Cheshire County, helping them to branch out and become more corporate. "We won the class competition and were able to pitch our concepts to their committee," said Pratt. "They selected our ideas and they're actually being used."

Rebecca Davis-Kelly, an art professor at Keene State, notices unique characteristics among her student athletes. "Those students know the rules, abide by them, and apply any resource necessary to get their job done. They meet deadlines, follow complex instructions, try new techniques to improve their work - and work tirelessly to reach those goals," she said. "You can always tell when a student has had some sort of sports affiliation - they tend to be very responsible students who rarely miss classes or assignments."

Pratt, the closer for the Owls, said the team aspect of softball has helped her communicate and land job interviews. "I had an interview for an internship and my boss ended up telling me he was the closer on his college baseball team," said Pratt. "We started talking about baseball and softball and I got the internship."

The three athletes say they get tremendous support from their teammates. "Our teammates know that it's difficult having this major and playing a sport, so we're really grateful for their support," said Girard.

Even when they are on the field or court, Girard, Stocklinski, and Pratt are still artists. "Sam and Sara always come to practice and tell us all about their ideas, and it's awesome to see what they finally produce," said teammate Maura Bergin. "The stuff they do is amazing and I'm so proud of them."