Previously published in the 2017 Ouachitonian yearbook.
Everyone cheered around her, and she knew they had won. Young Mariel Van Horn ran across the diamond field, her eyes fixed on the coach. When she reached him after maneuvering the celebrating team, he scooped her up and put her on his strong shoulders.
Van Horn, a freshman communication sciences and disorders major from Fayetteville, was the daughter of the head baseball coach at the University of Arkansas, Dave Van Horn.
“He started coaching long before I came into the picture, so basically it’s been something that I’ve been used to,” Van Horn said. “I’d take naps at the ballpark in my mom’s arms and stuff like that. It has always been my life, so it doesn’t seem different to me.”
Although some kids grew up watching baseball in the stands, Van Horn grew up with the ballpark as her playground.
“I’d do cartwheels in the outfield. Sometimes I would get on the pitcher’s mound and throw the baseball to where they hit. And sometimes some of his players would come and act as the catcher, and I would throw it to them–just little things,” Van Horn said. “It never occurred to me that other people didn’t do stuff like that. That was just my childhood, just being goofy.”
Van Horn, along with many other fans, watched her dad do his job at every baseball game.
“But my dad as a coach, I mean he’s grown in his abilities to be a coach,” Van Horn said, “But as a person, he’s been my dad and always been someone I’m close to. And it doesn’t matter what his job is, he’s my dad. I love him.”
Many of Van Horn’s friends expected her to attend the University of Arkansas, but when her older sister decided to transfer colleges her sophomore year, the Van Horn family discovered Ouachita.
Although Van Horn loved the University of Arkansas and her friends that would be going there, she knew she wanted to attend a Christian university after experiencing the difference between a public high school and a private Christian high school.
“I prayed a lot about. I guess my biggest fear going to college was my friend group,” Van Horn said. “And I prayed a lot about just finding the right people, and I really feel like God has delivered that in my life, just instantly.”
The distance from Arkadelphia to Fayetteville made it difficult for Van Horn to attend the games as often as she used to. But, she did not regret her decision to attend campus because it was based on the Christian atmosphere instead of sports, or staying with her high school friends.
Van Horn also wanted the chance to move far enough away from home to experience living with new people and making her own choices.
“I’m happy with my decision because I could see where things wouldn’t have fallen into place as well,” Van Horn said. “I probably wouldn’t have as many friends, I probably wouldn’t be going to a Bible study once a week, stuff like that. I’m happy.”
By Victoria Anderson
Photo by Andy Henderson
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