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FGCU catcher Ahnie Jumper earns praise for her leadership

Ahnie Jumper gets set for a play at the plate in the first inning of FGCU’s senior day game against Jacksonville on April 25, 2021, in Fort Myers. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

FORT MYERS — From the coach to the players, the comments about Ahnie Jumper contained a common theme: leadership.

Whether it’s been behind the plate as a catcher or away from the field, Jumper has earned admiration during her four years on the Florida Gulf Coast University softball team. She was one of eight seniors honored in a pregame senior day ceremony April 25 before the Eagles played their final regular season home game against Jacksonville.

“She’s just been an amazing softball player,” said FGCU coach Dave Deiros. “She’s really, really knowledgeable about the game and brings a lot to the table as far as leadership, and as far as the ability to go ahead and make plays. Off the field, she’s just an amazing individual who wants to give back to her tribe, wants to give back to her community, and wants to help those who are less advantaged.”

Indeed, off the field, Jumper has been helping the less fortunate of Fort Myers. She works with those experiencing homelessness as part of her academic work toward completing her degree this spring in social work.

As the starting catcher and a leader on the team, Jumper helped FGCU clinch the Atlantic Sun Conference’s South Division in April. She started 24 games in the regular season.

Ahnie Jumper, left, and fellow senior teammate Maddy Johnson watch a tribute on the video scoreboard during a pregame ceremony on senior day April 25, 2021. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

“Knowing full well that she’s the catcher and that she’s the General, she’s really enjoyed that leadership role and taking charge of the team when she’s on the field and when she’s off the field,” Deiros said.

Off the field for Jumper includes competing in rodeos. She’s been a fixture at Eastern Indian Rodeo Association events and the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for several years, often competing in breakaway roping.

“I’ve asked her to come to practice and show us how she does her lasso techniques and everything else,” Deiros said. “She’s just an athlete. She can do anything that she sets her mind to, and that’s why she’s going to be successful with whatever she does.”

Jumper had several family members from the Big Cypress Reservation in attendance at senior day, including her parents Andrea and Josh, some of her six siblings, grandparents Moses and Laquita and her uncle Naha.

Players were presented with bricks engraved with their name, position, uniform number and years played. The bricks will be installed in front of Alico Arena on campus.

The players’ tributes to their class of 2021 teammates aired for everyone in the park to see as the giant scoreboard in left field played individual videos for each senior in between innings. A couple players said Jumper exudes confidence which, in turn, helps them. One player summed up Jumper by saying she’s never afraid to let someone know when they aren’t playing well because she doesn’t want to see that person fail.

FGCU made sure it didn’t fail on senior day. The Eagles shook off a shaky start in their final regular season home game and rallied for a 5-4 win.

Jumper went 0-for-1. She reached on a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning and recorded her first stolen base of the season.

With the game knotted at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Jumper’s sacrifice bunt moved Maddy Johnson to second base. Johnson scored the go-ahead run on a single by McKenna Batterton.

FGCU’s quest for a conference championship starts May 7 when the Eagles host Stetson University in a best-of-three quarterfinal series. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 26-17 overall record and 15-3 mark in the Atlantic Sun. They’re heading into the playoffs fresh from a three-game sweep against Stetson to conclude the regular season.


Ahnie Jumper swings during her final regular season game at Florida Gulf Coast University on April 25, 2021. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Ahnie Jumper, second from left, and her fellow seniors are honored on Florida Gulf Coast University softball’s senior day April 25, 2021. Jumper is a four-year player. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. He also worked for more than a decade in management and public relations for a hockey program in New England that produced several college and NHL players. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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