WATCH: Florida Tech’s Scholar-Athlete Spotlight Recognizes Softball Player Cheyenne Nelson

By  //  November 11, 2021

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nelson is majoring in aerospace engineering

ABOVE VIDEO: In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, Florida Tech features Panther softball player Cheyenne Nelson, a senior outfielder who is majoring in aerospace engineering.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Being a scholar-athlete at Florida Tech takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to excel both in the classroom and on the field.

In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, Florida Tech features Panther softball player Cheyenne Nelson, a senior outfielder who is majoring in aerospace engineering.

Hailing from Snohomish, Washington, Nelson was an integral part of the Panthers’ first-ever Sunshine State Conference championship team in 2019 and this past season became just the second player in program history to earn the SSC Player of the Year award after leading the conference in batting average (.418), hits (41) and steals (9).

Additionally, she tallied 15 runs, 13 RBI, five doubles, one triple, one home run, and five walks. Cheyenne was named to the All-SSC First Team and was an All-South Region selection in 2021.

She has also been selected to the SSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Florida Tech Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in each of her first three years at Tech, having twice done so with a 4.0 GPA.

There are few places better to study for someone who wants to spend their lives in the space industry than Florida Tech, so we sat down with Cheyenne to ask her about her experience on the Space Coast and how she manages to thrive on and off the field.

■ What is your major at Florida Tech? Why did you choose this direction for your education and is this something you always wanted to pursue?

I’m studying aerospace engineering and I’ve been interested in engineering since late high school. I was good at math and science, and I really enjoyed it.

But I actually came to Florida Tech as a general engineering major. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. There were too many different fields that interested me but after a semester in general engineering, I decided that aerospace was the place for me and I’m so happy I made that decision. I love it!

■ When it comes to aerospace engineering, what made you choose Florida Tech?

So, I was interested in aerospace a little bit when I was choosing the school. I wasn’t totally sure if I wanted to choose that or not, but I was interested in aerospace, and this is a great place for it as well as softball. I had a connection with Coach Val, so it really just worked out.

■ What are some exciting projects you’ve been able to work on?

Currently, I’m in senior design. As a sophomore, I was also volunteering with the Senior Design Group though, unfortunately, COVID kind of cut that short. But currently, I’m working with my design team to create a drone that is meant for kids of all ages, K through 12.

So it’s really designed for teaching kids about aerospace, getting them excited, seeing how aerodynamics work, and making it also very safe for kids too.

■ How do you plan to use your degree after graduation?

I’m not totally sure what I want to do yet. But this last summer, I was able to work in defense contracting, and I really loved that. I would like to stick with that and help the US forces however I can with my knowledge and my skill set.

How much fun has it been going to school so close to NASA, and have you been able to go to Cape Canaveral while you’ve been here?

It’s been a lot of fun! Being able to watch launches, even just between classes sometimes, it’s pretty cool. You don’t get that really anywhere else.

I’ve gone to the Visitor Center at Kennedy Space Center. That’s pretty much all I’ve seen, but that’s pretty cool. I’m supposed to be going to a launch next week, which will be pretty fun.

■ What’s an average day of study/classes like for you?

With softball, we usually have 6 or 7 a.m. weights or running pretty much every day. So, I’m up at the crack of dawn and then I usually have a small break where I can do some homework and get things done, maybe a small nap if I have time.

Then I’ll have classes in the afternoon and then we typically have an evening practice around 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. I’ll eat if I can, and probably do more homework afterward and do it all again the next day.

■ How do you balance everything during softball season?

Yeah, things get a lot busier. We’re practicing a lot more, of course, and playing a lot more. So, it really just comes down to time management, you know, I have to plan ahead a lot better.

■ How has being a collegiate athlete prepared you for the work you are currently doing? What traits do you take from the field that help you be successful?

Time management is a huge one. Being able to balance classes really well, stay disciplined, and being able to get my work done when I need to.

But a big one, especially this year, is working on a team. I am on a senior design team, and playing softball for all these years has really helped me with that, I can work well now with my design team and be more efficient.

■ What advice would you give another athlete/prospective athlete who is looking to enter the world of aerospace engineering?

I think my biggest point of advice would be to not be defined by school or sports.

As student-athletes, it’s really easy to fall into that but you can save yourself a lot of stress and a lot of time worrying if you find your worth in something other than sports.

■ In your first two full seasons here, you’ve won an SSC Championship and an SSC Player of the Year award. What’s next for you and what do you think the team can achieve in 2022?

We’ve got a really good team this year! A lot of talent! I’m really excited to see where this year takes us, I’m hoping it’s a normal year. Of course, I’d love to be an All-American, that’s what I’m shooting for personally right now.

But as a team, I think we’re looking really good, hopefully, another conference championship is on its way!

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