Just 10 minutes into practice on the first day of her junior year at the University of Minnesota, catcher Kendyl Lindaman felt her knee pop and immediately knew something was wrong.
Several days later, she learned that she tore her meniscus, which required immediate surgery.
“With the coaching change and being injured, I found myself questioning my decision of why I was here again,” Lindaman said. “At this time, I kind of realized that I needed to make a chance.”
But the adversity Kendyl faced during her college transition didn’t end there. She lost her grandmother, whom offered some wise words of advice before her passing that stuck with the Ankeny, Iowa, native.
“Kendyl, go follow your dreams, you can’t do it at the University of Minnesota, it’s time to make a change,” she said.
At that moment, Kendyl decided to transfer from Minnesota in order to revive her passion for softball.
The Iowa High School all-time home run leader (71) began her collegiate career in the Twin Cities where she started 119 games behind the plate in her freshman and sophomore seasons and earned All-American honors.
As a freshman, Lindaman led the Big Ten in batting average (.426) and finished third in the NCAA in on-base percentage (.598). She set single-season program records for home runs (20), slugging percentage (.899), RBIs (tied-76) and walks (63). Lindaman’s dominance in the north was evident when she won back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year awards.
Following her decision to transfer to the University of Florida, Kendyl questioned her choice on a daily basis, but her family provided the support she needed.
“I had my family there to back me up and just remind me what my dreams are and how happy I will become as time goes by,” Lindaman said.
Perhaps the toughest challenge Kendyl faced was adjusting to the proximity to her home in Iowa. She went from just a three-and-a-half hour drive to Minnesota’s campus to an 18-hour trek to Gainesville.
“Just a short plane ride [to Gainesville], but I’ve never been this far from home,” Lindaman said. “But through it all, I found that the people that care about me the most travel wherever I’m at.”
In 2019, Lindaman migrated to the Sunshine State to embark on her softball career in the Southeastern Conference. As a utility player, she alternated playing catcher and designated player. Lindaman made the All-SEC First Team and finished top-10 in the conference in home runs (15-T10th), RBIs (54-T7th) and walks (42-10th).
During her first season at UF, Kendyl felt a rejuvenated sense of support from her teammates and coaching staff.
“I had my new teammates by me every step of the way,” Lindaman said. “They were there to encourage me and to push me to become a better player and person than I was before.”
A year later, Lindaman transitioned to first base and displayed her versatility in the field in an abbreviated 2020 season. She recorded a .995 fielding percentage, which is tied for sixth among seniors in UF program history.
Kendyl’s success at the plate carried over into the 2021 season — she received a fifth year of eligibility due to COVID-19 shortening the 2020 season — in which she was one of five Gators to receive All-SEC accolades. In Florida’s first postseason contest, Lindaman delivered a go-ahead, three-run home run against Mississippi State to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals.
Despite the endless obstacles she faced, Kendyl’s mental and physical toughness allowed her to overcame all forms of adversity and return to the softball star she has always been. “I have grown to love the game even more. I am a stronger person and a stronger player.”
In hindsight, Kendyl ultimately feels no regret regarding her decision to transfer to UF. “Even if I had the opportunity, I would not change anything.”