LAFAYETTE, La. — Upon the completion of her four-year career as a Georgia Bulldog, Ciara Bryan transferred to the University of Louisiana. She played for the Ragin’ Cajuns after the NCAA added one year of eligibility to all spring sports players due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What a year it was for the Covington native.
Bryan was named to the NCAA Division I Second Team All-American team for Softball America. She was also recognized as the Sun Belt Conference’s (SBC) Player of the Year as well as Newcomer of the Year.
But, on Aug. 16, Bryan received a phone call with news that would just add to her stellar resume.
The SBC announced that Bryan was voted as the conference’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
Bryan recognized how significant the honor meant to her.
“When I got the call, I was really excited and thrilled,” Bryan said. “There have only been three people before me to receive this honor from the University of Louisiana. So, it’s a big deal and I take pride in that.”
The honor comes on the heels on an impressive 2021 season.
Bryan recorded a .418 average, seven home runs, 87 hits (which ranked third in the NCAA), 39 RBIs and 37 stolen bases.
This wasn’t the first time Bryan had been recognized in her softball career that started at Newton High School.
During her time as a Ram, Bryan was the region player of the year as a junior, defensive player of the year as a freshman, received the coach’s award as a sophomore and was named Most Valuable Player
After she graduated in 2016, Bryan went and played at the University of Georgia. When she was a Bulldog, she was a NCFA Third Team and an All-Southeast Region selection in 2017. Then, in 2018, Bryan was a Second Team All-SEC selection, too.
Even after receiving all of these accolades, though, Bryan pointed to something else that is her favorite part of the game. Playing as a team is the reason why Bryan has been committed to softball since she started playing around 8 years old.
“For me, I’ve always enjoyed the team experience,” Bryan said. “With softball, it’s not an individual sport and it’s completely team-oriented. I enjoy playing with my teammates. It helps me and it also helps my teammates. So, being a part of a team and knowing that no one person can do it alone.”
From the hallways of Newton High School to the Louisiana campus, Bryan said the support has been apparent coming from the Covington area. With the backing from her parents, other family members, friends and coaches, Bryan highlighted the importance each of them has played in her successful softball career.
Now, Bryan hopes her career will serve as an inspiration to younger girls from Covington who aspire to be successful in whatever they choose to pursue. That is why it’s so important to Bryan to give back as much as she can.
“From being at Georgia as a freshman to my COVID year at Louisiana, Covington and Newton County has always been behind my back,” Bryan said. “When I come home, I’ll go back to Newton High School and give back and be there to help. I love my city and they’ve always had my back.”