Elite Pitcher Trades in Her Glove for Nursing Scrubs
Before the age of 10, Meghan King knew she wanted to be a pediatric nurse. However, as she grew older, she developed a talent for softball, throwing something of a curveball at that nursing aspiration. By 23, she had become one of the most prolific pitchers in Florida State University softball history.
Today, even with professional and international offers to continue her athletic career after college, King has decided to put softball on the back burner. As a member of the University of South Florida College of Nursing’s inaugural accelerated second degree cohort at the St. Petersburg campus, she has returned to her childhood aspiration: nursing.
“I get asked by a lot of people, ‘Why do you have to go to nursing school now? You can play for as long as you can, and you’ll always have school.’ At the end of the day, nursing has always been my passion,” she said.
King’s desire to be a nurse came about when she lost her friend to cancer at a young age. After hearing the friend’s family say their nurses were “the most influential people” in their lives during their child’s sickness, King felt called to a future in nursing.
After originally planning to attend the University of Maryland to play softball, King committed to FSU two months before the start of classes. Due to the late commitment, she was unable to enroll in the pre-nursing program. Undeterred, she decided upon a family and child services major after consulting with her advisors.
During the Seminoles’ run to their first and only NCAA National Championship, King carried her team with a 0.20 earned run average in the Women’s College World Series. She earned four of FSU’s six wins in the tournament.
King’s 108 career wins are second in FSU’s history behind Lacey Waldrop’s 109, and her 11 saves are the most in Seminole history.
Consistently one of the best pitchers in the nation during her time at FSU, King was also one of the best students in the classroom. Along with being the third player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named All-Conference First Team all four years of her playing career, King also made the All-ACC Academic Honor Roll in all five of her years at FSU.
Concurrent with the full schedule that comes with Division I athletics, King found time to give back to the community through various service projects in Florida. She won the FSU Athletic Director’s Cup for Service three times in four years, participated in the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association’s Miracle League, and assisted in disaster relief programs with the American Red Cross.
After fulfilling her child and family services practicum at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s pediatric care unit, King returned during her final semester as a volunteer.
“I fell in love with not just what the profession has to offer, but I was able to see every single procedure that happened on the floor,” she said. “It’s a really good profession to take yourself out of the equation and do what you can for someone else.”
King was also instrumental in developing an aspect of FSU Athletics’ Adopt-a-Patient program in which teams can “adopt” a patient at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare for a year, working with lawyers to draft guidelines for patients and teams.
With plenty of experience within different aspects of health care, King had to decide the best path for her future. She says that while she considered staying at Florida State, her desire to one day do her residency at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital was what swayed her to make the move south to USF.
Selected in the third round of the 2019 National Professional Fastpitch Draft to play for the Cleveland Comets, King had the chance to extend her career longer than most athletes can. When she decided to step away from a full-time opportunity to play softball, she says she was questioned on the decision. However, softball is not completely out of the picture for King. Entering her fifth year competing with the Puerto Rican National Softball team, she flew out during her first week of nursing school to compete for a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Puerto Rico did not qualify, but King remains involved in the sport, giving pitching lessons to more than 15 local girls. She has also been approached by ESPN about softball broadcasting on the weekend, if available.
In the future, she says she may come back and train for the 2021 World Games. With softball off the program at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, she says the 2028 Olympics could be in play “after I have a couple of babies.”
King says softball gave her an outlet for competitiveness, but also taught her skills that will translate into nursing, like teamwork, leadership and communication. Now she is ready to take what she learned and move to the next step.
“I’ve had so much fun throughout my career, but I know that this is what I was supposed to do right now, and this is what makes me happiest,” she said.