UIC softball catcher chosen for Navy's nuclear program - FOX 32 News Chicago

UIC softball catcher chosen for Navy's nuclear program

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

When she's behind the plate, Erica Hampton serves as the last line of defense for the UIC Flames Girls' Softball team. Now, she could one day be a backstop for America's defenses.

Hampton’s been accepted into the Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program.

“I just thought it was like perfect for me. And so I thought it was kind of a longshot at first, and decided I could at least apply and the worst thing that would happen is they say no,” Hampton said.

The Wichita native -- an electrical engineering major -- said that she's been serious about playing softball since she was 12, and enjoys playing behind the plate.

“I like being involved in every single pitch and it helped me tremendously with my communication and everything else,” Hampton added.

Hampton's coaches said they can't imagine anyone who would make a better candidate for the Navy's nuclear program, in part because of her take-control attitude on the field.

“She's trustworthy, and I know she's going to make great decisions. And she's going to work hard, And she's not going to let anyone down,” said assistant softball coach Becky Keogh.

Keogh said that Hampton calls a great game for her pitchers, but her real strength is throwing out base runners.

“She's not afraid to pull the trigger. She'll pick people off second, which is a very long throw, she throws from her knees, she’s deceptive,” Keogh said.

When Hampton finishes next year at UIC, she'll have 12 weeks at Officer Candidate's School, then she'll be deployed on a non-nuclear ship, and then Nuclear Power School. All candidates for the nuclear program had to interview with a top Admiral in the U.S. Navy.

“I was like ten times more nervous for that interview than I am right now,” Hampton said.

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