April 3, 2007
By Robin Martin
Auburn Media Relations
Lauren Walton described herself as "wide-eyed" when she first came to Auburn as a freshman. She was excited, inspired and ready to play. It's kind of like entering the twilight zone when suddenly you're playing on the same field as athletes you were watching on TV just one year before. It's surreal.
Walton may not be aware, but with more than three and a half years of Division I experience under her belt, she is still as wide-eyed as the day she arrived on the Plains. Her heart and soul lies in this program and you can hear it in her voice when she talks about it. The only difference is that she has developed into a class-act leader who has been dealt quite a hand.
Adversity seems to be a recurring theme this year, and for Walton in particular. If it could go wrong, it probably has gone wrong. But Walton, the Palmetto, Fla., native, has handled the trials and tribulations of 2007 with grace and maturity. And she has successfully conquered the challenge of maintaining her leadership role from the sidelines after suffering an injury that forced her out of competition.
Nothing seems to get her down. Or maybe she just hides it well. Either way, it's impressive. This is her senior year and folding is simply not an option. You can ask anyone who knows her, this season means the world.
"This is it for me," Walton said. "My senior year means so much to me and it keeps me going. I want to get to the end of the year and look back and say that I gave it everything I had and worked hard and tried to be the best leader possible. I want to look back with no regrets."
Anyone will tell you it's easy to be a leader when things are running smoothly. You just sit back, relax and watch the success effortlessly unfold. But the task becomes a little more daunting when success doesn't come quite so easily and you're forced to stay positive from the sidelines.
But Walton is a perfect example that it can be done, and it can be done effectively.
In the second game of Auburn's conference opener against Kentucky, Walton suffered a season-halting injury when she took a pitch from a Kentucky hurler to the hand. Suddenly her role changed. She went from a full-time starter in center field to waiting impatiently for the go-ahead to hit the field again. It was an untimely misfortune, but no one could've handled it better.
"I've had my moments," Walton said, "but I can't change it, so there's no point in pouting about it. I've just been trying to focus on getting back out on the field. I wish it hadn't happened, but this is an opportunity for me to be an example. Something good is going to come out of this."
Walton continues to lead by example as she waits for her wounds to heal. Her poise throughout the year has been admirable and she has redefined the term "leader."
Even from the sidelines she continues to act as the glue that holds all the pieces together.
Behind The Scenes With Lauren Walton
When Lauren was younger she ...
Took tennis lessons.
Was often chosen for the lead male role in elementary school plays.
Used to make up random songs about random objects and sing them for her family.
Wore her hair in pageant curls and wore Umbros every day in 6th grade.
She loves ...
Dessert, especially ice cream.
If she was stranded on a desert island, she would bring ...
A hatchet, a match and a friend.
She collects baseballs - foul balls from various games and souvenir baseballs. She has about 25.
She quit softball for one day to pursue gymnastics, then changed her mind.
She played volleyball and was a cheerleader in high school.