Summer Spotlight Series: Wilkes talks playing college softball at home

Staff report



PEMBROKE — As much as the chance to play college sports is a rare opportunity, even fewer athletes get to do so at their hometown school.

Purnell Swett graduate Marijo Wilkes is headed to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to play softball, and discussed the challenge of the next level and how much it will mean to play collegiately in Pembroke on the Inside Sports Summer Spotlight Series.

“I think it’s going to be really a challenge for me, to know that I’m not going to be playing with my friends and it’s going to be a tighter schedule than travel ball or Legion ball,” Wilkes said. “It’s going to be a big environmental difference for me, because I have to stay on campus this year, I don’t get to stay at home. That’s going to be new for me.”

Wilkes said her career is proof that softball players and other athletes from Robeson County can earn athletic opportunities at UNCP, including American Indians.

“It’s really big for me going out there knowing that I actually came from Pembroke and it is possible for Pembroke people, or anyone from Robeson County, to go to UNCP and play sports,” Wilkes said. “They’ve just got to try and not give up. Just because one person can’t do it doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t do it, so you’ve just got to keep pushing through. It’s a really big thing for me that I’m going because I’m going to be one of the first Native Americans to play for UNCP on their softball team, so I just think it’s going to help a lot in the future generation to go play.”

To view the full interview, which includes discussion about Purnell Swett’s up-and-down softball season, two walkoff wins to clinch the Sandhills Athletic Conference title and advance to the third round of the state playoffs and why she loves playing softball, see the top of the page.