ERIE, Pa. (EYT) – The Penn State Behrend Lions feature a collection of D9 talent with three DuBois Area High School grads helping to lead the way.
Junior middle infielder Kylee Bundy is one of these former Beavers at Behrend and has continuously produced at a high level on the field while also achieving excellence in the classroom over the last three years. In her first collegiate season, Bundy was tabbed as a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American Scholar-Athlete in addition to being named the Lions Rookie of the Year in 2019. Not only did she excel in her college courses from the start, though, but also on the diamond.
On a senior-led team in 2019 for the Behrend Lions, Bundy was a key middle infielder on a team that won 28 games and was the number one seed in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament. She hit .341 as a first-year, collecting 31 hits, 19 runs, 16 RBI’s, and five stolen bases in thirty-four games. While her college career started about as perfect as can be expected, her sophomore season was a little more interesting, to put it mildly.
This season featured both an injury for Bundy and a large majority of the season canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic became an increasing presence in our daily lives. Despite this, the Behrend nursing student found ways to remain positive and also get better despite gym closures and not being able to play summer ball.
“I found ways to do at-home bodyweight workouts to keep in shape the best I could after having to just sit on the couch after I broke my leg. I also set up a tarp between two trees and hit off a tee to keep myself ready as a hitter. My dad and I would throw to keep my arm ready also. I think I improved so much mentally as an athlete during the last year.”
While Behrend’s season was canceled in 2020 after only about a third of their games were played, the Lions are off to a 4-2 start, and Bundy collected two home runs in the first game of the season; a win over the Allegheny Gators. So far, she is hitting .389 with seven hits and seven RBI’s to her credit. She is now being asked to be one of the leaders, a responsibility she has not taken lightly.
“I was honored to be selected as a captain. It has motivated me to attack each practice and game even harder to set a good example. I had great seniors to look up to when I was first entering college, and I want to be able to fulfill that role for the next group of players that come to Behrend.”
Before her days in Erie, Bundy was also a standout in volleyball and softball in high school. She helped the Beavers win a D9 title in softball and volleyball as a senior and was a captain for both of those respective teams. Along the way, Bundy was the team MVP in both softball and volleyball as a senior, a two-time Tri-County All-Star, a two-time D9 Large School All-Star, and a first-team all-state selection in softball as a senior. She won a total of six varsity letters and still managed to be selected to the National Honors Society, as well.
While Bundy loves being an athlete, she says she enjoys the grind and the process more than any awards that come with it.
“I just want to give it the best I can. I love to prepare and see improvement. The other things that come with it are great, but I do not need the awards to help motivate me. Honestly, I did not even realize there was an all-state team before I was selected. It came to me as a surprise.”
While Bundy is undoubtedly an accomplished athlete, her next stage in life is quickly approaching. In 2022, she will complete her requirements to become a registered nurse and hold a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Behrend. When asking her why she wanted to be a nurse and if there was an exact moment she realized it, she had a personal story to share.
“I spent the week before I headed to college in the hospital visiting my Uncle Mike Betzler, who was on a ventilator. I saw how the nurses took care of him and genuinely cared about him while he was in the intensive care unit. From seeing that, I knew exactly then that I wanted to be a nurse. My uncle was one of my best friends, and losing him has inspired me to not take time and any day for granted.”
Another critical role model in her life has been her father, Justin Bundy, who is a United States veteran. Having a father who knows about hard work and dedication has been an advantage for her in her sports career, and the bond Justin and Kylee share is unbreakable. “My dad has been my coach my entire life. He has spent so much time helping me get better and continually motivates me to improve. He calls me after every game still to go over how I played, and it means a lot that he cares so much about how I am doing.”
In her days in DuBois, she was fortunate to be surrounded by great coaches, but none may be a more significant influence than Denny Nosker. Nosker coached Bundy for nearly a decade, and was a huge reason she fell in love with the game and continued her career at the next level.
Another influence in her athletic career and her life has been her best friend and boyfriend Ryan Pasternak, a former all-state lineman for the DuBois Beavers and a standout for the Edinboro Fighting Scots football team. The two have been best friends for years, but both living in Erie County for their college experience has helped them strengthen their relationship and love for one another.
“He (Pasternak) is the most motivational person to me in my life. He always pushes me to be a better version of myself and to keep that positive and hard-working mindset going. It can be difficult sometimes that we are both collegiate-athletes, but I am lucky to have him as a big part of my life.”
As Bundy wraps up semester number six of her college career, she will be gaining experience this summer at Penn Highlands DuBois as an intern. Later in her health care career, she hopes to become a trauma nurse and then a nurse practitioner. These goals are achievable because of her positive outlook and her love for helping to take care of people.
While her college softball career and college learning experience have been different from most, Kylee Bundy continues to strive and fall in love with the grind that it takes to succeed in life. There are two things people can always control; their effort and attitude. These two things will continue to make all the difference as Bundy continues on this current journey and into a quickly approaching new chapter in her life.