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Softball, Law, and Teaching: An Inside Look at the Career of Michele Calabrese

Written by on April 9, 2021

Photo courtesy of ISU Athletics 

NORMAL, Ill. – Scoring runs and stealing bases aren’t the only things Michele Calabrese can do.

Calabrese, a junior utility player for the ISU softball team, is a teaching assistant for professor Erik Rankin. She helps teach his “POL 106 – United States Government and Civic Practices” class. After starting work as a TA for him in the spring of her freshman year, she says it’s given her a new perspective and has helped her improve as a student.

“I really enjoy being able to be on the teacher’s side of things,” said Calabrese. “And that’s helped me be a better TA for all of my students, and be a better student in all of my classes, because I kind of know the expectations of professors.”

The task of being a TA, softball player and a student all at once seems daunting. For Michele Calabrese, the heavy workload is nothing new.

She was a star student and shortstop at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois. There, she earned four varsity letters and four academic all-conference selections, with her fourth in her senior year being unanimous.

Calabrese also enjoyed playing basketball and singing in the school choir, while achieving above a 3.6 GPA throughout all of high school. Needless to say, a booked calendar never fazes Michele Calabrese. In fact, it’s what she has looked for in her time at Illinois State.

“I went into college seeking out being super busy, because that’s been my lifestyle my entire life. I’ve had sports and school at this time, so I’ve always had to time manage really well,” said Calabrese.

In addition to having a strong work ethic, she credits head coach Melinda Fischer for aiding in the learning process. The team participates in what they call “study bus” to do homework or study. The squad does this for one hour on every bus trip.

After study buses are said and done, and she’s moved her tassel from right to left, Michele Calabrese says she has her post-graduation plans figured out. Right now, the political science and legal studies double major is prepping for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Law is where she says the future is for her.

“My passion really lies with litigation and litigating a court,” said Calabrese. “That’s something that I’m really interested in and that I want to continue in the future.”

As for softball, she sees it as an integral part of her future too.

“Softball is always going to be in my life,” said Calabrese.

“I definitely want to coach after college, whether that’s for a local team in my hometown, or eventually when I have kids and I have a daughter that wants to play. I would absolutely love to coach.”

Ultimately, Michele Calabrese sees her TA experience with Rankin as nothing but the optimum positive experience. She says he has been there for her in times of need, and has helped her in all facets of her career.

“He really has been a mentor to me, and even a friend when I need it,” said Calabrese.

“Overall, it’s been a super positive experience. It’s helped me in every aspect of my college career, and I couldn’t imagine college without it,” said Calabrese.