Two years into her college softball career, Bishop McNamara alumni Tonya Faulkner finally is able to make her childhood dreams come true.
After spending the past two seasons playing softball at Danville Area Community College, Faulkner has made the decision to transfer to the University of Illinois, where she will spend her remaining years of eligibility.
“Honestly, I have always wanted to go to Illinois since I was a little kid,” Faulkner said. “It’s always been a huge dream of mine.”
The middle fielder always planned to move on from the Jaguars’ two-year junior college program. She had Illinois on her radar during her freshman season at Danville.
Nonetheless, the soon-to-be junior really enjoyed her time playing for Danville. In her freshman campaign, Faulkner hit .348 with 33 RBIs in 46 starts. She also added three home runs, one triple and nine doubles. As for this season, Faulkner, went on to play in all nine games for the Jags before the season was canceled because of COVID-19.
“I loved playing for Danville. It was honestly one of the best decisions I ever made,” Faulkner said. “They definitely helped me improve on my game and allowed me to get to the next level.”
The communications major started getting in contact with Illinois in the fall with help from some of her Danville coaches who are Illinois alumni themselves. From there, Faulkner ended up going on a visit to Champaign in December, which ultimately confirmed her love for the Fighting Illini.
“I had visited Illinois in the winter time before everything broke out,” Faulkner said. “Once I started applying, the process got much longer due to COVID-19, but other than that, it was pretty easy.”
Overall, the decision to head to Illinois was an easy one for Faulkner, especially being that it felt comfortable.
“Illinois felt most like home. It’s only about an hour away from me,” Faulkner said. “And I love the athletic atmosphere in general there because they all support each other, which makes for a super fun atmosphere.”