BYU softball star Katie Manuma is well-known for her ability to swing the bat, but there is more to her personality than hitting home runs.
According to her team, Manuma is a unique individual who brings not only talent to the team, but a sense of humor and comic relief.
“Katie is a character in every sense of the word,” BYU softball coach Gordon Eakin said. “She loves life, and nothing seems to bother her on the surface. She is kind of a jokester. You never know whether or not to take her seriously.”
When she’s not blasting home runs out of the park, Manuma is typically found dancing with her roommates. Her roommate and teammate, Bailie Hicken, calls her “The Dancing Queen” or “Queen B.” The “B” refers to Beyonce, whose music Manuma enjoys dancing and making videos to in her spare time. About once a month, the girls will stay up until 4 a.m. learning Beyonce’s music video choreography.
“At the end of the year, we make a music video with whoever is willing to participate,” Manuma said. “We do all kinds of dancing, including whatever is popular on YouTube.”
Hicken said with “Queen B” around, it’s always a good time. She refers to Manuma as one of the most original people she has ever met. She believes Manuma’s main role on the team is to keep things relaxed and fun so the players can better perform under pressure during a game.
“Things get heated at times, but she always knows what to say,” Hicken said. “Even during intense times in the circle with coach, she keeps things light. Sometimes it’s not the time or the place, but she’s the only one that can get away with it.”
Manuma agrees she is the stress reliever on the team, but she now has additional roles and responsibilities that have come with being an upperclassman. With over three years of BYU softball experience under her belt, she now acts as an exemple to the younger players. She said she is the power in the lineup and responsible for scoring runs and playing where her coach needs her to play.
“Katie is an integral part of our lineup,” Eakin said. “As she’s gone through the program, she’s a junior now and is becoming a leader. She still has a ways to go because she is so fun-loving, but she is getting better at that.”
The Hawaii native has come a long way since starting her career as a Cougar. Her freshman year she rode the bench after swinging only .240 on the year. Now, as a junior, she has gone 4–4 in home runs in preseason tournaments so far this year, one of which was a grand slam against UC Santa Barbara.
“Katie is also very talented, very athletic and strong,” Eakin said. “She can hit the ball for power, and, despite being a strong player, she still has speed.”
Manuma typically plays first base but has recently stepped into the pitching rotation for the Cougars. Although she has made her way back to the circle, she hasn’t pitched full force since she was a senior in high school. However, she has great potential for the softball team, seeing as she had a 13–1 record with a 0.68 ERA and 93 strikeouts as a high school senior.
Manuma was scouted by BYU during her junior year of high school after crushing one over the fence in a softball scouting event in her home state of Hawaii. Her list of accomplishments and honors is long, even as a high school ballplayer. With a .490 batting average and .980 slugging average, she was named Gatorade Player of the Year, Division 1 State Championship MVP and two-time Hawaii State Player and MVP of the Year. So far this preseason, she has already secured a PCSC College Madness Player of the Week title and is expected to earn even more as an experienced upperclassman.
In 2010, BYU welcomed Manuma, who made her way from her hometown of Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Despite not being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Manuma has felt at home at BYU.
“I came here for a recruiting visit and loved it,” Manuma said. “It felt like Hawaii. The team was very welcoming, and there was a strong sense of hospitality from everyone. I’m a Christian, but I think the Mormon rules are cool because they keep me in line and there are no distractions.”