Hawkeye softball’s Kit Rocco found her ‘home away from home’ at Iowa

Rocco transferred from Northern Kentucky to Iowa after her freshman season and was making an impact in her first year as a Hawkeye before the pandemic halted the season.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa catcher Kit Rocco catches a pitch during an Iowa softball game against Iowa Central at Pearl Field on Friday, October 4, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tritons 4-0 in 10 innings.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

When the Big Ten canceled spring sports for the remainder of the academic year on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa softball’s sophomore catcher Kit Rocco and her teammates were in shock.

The team had already traveled to Florida and was getting ready to play.

“It hurt a little bit, a lotta bit, when we got into Florida and were noticing that everything was getting canceled,” Rocco said. “We were wondering, ‘What if we’re next?’”

The Iowa softball team was 17-5 when the remainder of the season was canceled. In the shortened season, Rocco played in 21 games with 19 starts. She boasted a .311 batting average and hit safely in eight of her first 10 games of the season.

Rocco said that the reality of the cancellation didn’t settle in for her for about a month.

“It’s an unreal feeling that’s hard to put into words,” she said.

Rocco transferred to Iowa this past season after playing her freshman year at Northern Kentucky. She chose to transfer out of Northern Kentucky because she was over 13 hours away from her family, and the campus there didn’t seem like home.

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She found her home away from home on the Iowa campus. It’s only four and a half hours away from her hometown of Woodbury, Minnesota. Rocco credits the softball coaches for giving her a chance and believing in her every step of the way.

She also chose Iowa because of the opportunity to join ROTC on campus.

Rocco was raised in a military family, and that upbringing has influenced her in everything that she does.

“I realized that the military structure is something that I can’t really live without,” Rocco said. “I carry myself to a higher standard than most people do because that’s how I was raised.”

Her military upbringing shines in the way she carries herself at practice. Rocco not only holds herself to a higher standard while playing softball, but her teammates as well.

Ultimately, Rocco made the difficult decision to drop out of ROTC at Iowa to “live out the softball dream,” but said she is planning on going to Air Force Officer Training after she graduates.

“After I graduate from college, I’m really excited to give everything I have to the military,” Rocco said. “I feel like I’ve been putting it off for a while, but I want to retire in the military.”

For now, Rocco is focusing on training for the upcoming season. Her dad put in a home gym this year, so she said that it was easy for her to do her lifts while away from Iowa City. She is also motivated by her teammates — they train together on FaceTime and have their workouts connected through their smartwatches.

Rocco is also working as a youth coach for a softball team in her hometown this summer.

Right now, Rocco isn’t worried about not being able to play in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but if it comes down to it, she knows that the school and the athletic department needs to put the safety of the community first.

“I really want what’s best for everyone,” Rocco said. “We obviously want to play, but if it’s going to be a huge risk for everyone, I’d rather have us not play and cancel seasons until we can get everyone back on track and our country in a better place.”

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