“I love being a student-athlete here. Everyone here cares about you. Everyone here wants the best for you.”

– Sara Tallman ’20

Hometown: Pella, Iowa
Majors: Elementary education and social science
 Reading and math
Scholarships: Joan Kuyper Farver, Central Heritage and Creative Writing
Campus Activities: Central Teacher Academy, Softball and Bridge Club
Career Goals: Become a fifth-grade teacher

Sara Tallman ’20 knew she wasn’t going to be on TV. Nor was she going to get an athletic scholarship to play softball at Central College.

That never affected her decision to play for the Dutch, who compete at the NCAA Division III level. At Central, it’s about more than the glory.

“Everyone who’s on a team for any sport at Central is doing it because they love it,” Tallman says.

That’s not to say goals are different from those at any level. That’s especially true in Central’s softball program, which has won four national championships (2003, 1993, 1991, 1988) and went to the postseason in 10 of 11 seasons from 2009-2019.

“You still have high expectations,” Tallman says. “We’re still trying to be the best we can be. We’re still pushing ourselves. Everyone is in it because they enjoy it, but that’s still something you get at Division III.”

While Tallman is at Central because she loves the game, she certainly is here to compete, too.

She’s been one of the team’s top hitters since her arrival and earned first-team all-conference honors each season. She’s also been named by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association to its All-Midwest Region team.

Competitive on the field, Tallman carries that fire off the field, too. She earned one of the top academic scholarships to attend Central and hasn’t slowed.

She is an elementary education major carrying a 3.94 GPA. She’s part of the Central Teacher Academy, a program that puts education students in the classroom well ahead of their student-teaching requirement.

Tallman has been a perfect example of student and athlete, earning Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete Awards in 2017 and 2018.

“For me, my success in academics and athletics is driven by who I am,” Tallman says. “I want to do well in everything I do. I’m a competitor. That’s my drive. I try to do my best in anything I do.”

Tallman is homegrown. She grew up in Pella and her mother, Christy Tallman ’92, is an alum.

Even so, Tallman insisted she wasn’t going to attend Central. A couple of visits and meetings with the softball coaches, the education faculty and the chance to study abroad changed her mind quickly.

“Central can be your home away from home. It’s your own little world if you make it that,” Tallman says.

It’s been the best decision Tallman has made. She’s found that small-school, caring atmosphere so many others find at Central. And she’s flourished every step of the way.

“It’s been a great experience—without a doubt,” Tallman says. “I love being a student-athlete here. From softball to becoming more confident in my major, I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been here. Everyone here cares about you. Everyone here wants the best for you.”


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