Softball is a sport for warm weather. That can pose problems for Bryn Lucht.
The Wauconda standout was diagnosed with vocal cord dysfunction when she was 16. For Lucht, heat and humidity can worsen the symptoms of the condition, which blocks airways and makes breathing difficult, particularly when she exercises.
“I usually only feel problems when I run a lot or do cardio,” she said. “I struggle breathing in gym class and mostly in softball practices.
“I usually use breathing exercises to reduce chest pain. If it comes to it, I will take a break in practices. … Games are usually not as bad, so I rarely have to ask for a break.”
Lucht, a senior center fielder who has committed to play for the Division II program at Montana State-Billings, said she learned how to manage the condition so she could compete at a high level without suffering a “VCD attack.” It’s distinct from asthma.
“I went through speech therapy to help improve my breathing,” she said. “Because of COVID, I had a setback, but I’m improving every day. I work hard to improve even if I have a minor setback. I don’t let it define me. I use it to motivate myself to get better.”
Lucht, who batted .460 with 11 home runs, 48 RBIs and 44 runs and was named to the Class 3A all-state second team last year, has started this season even better. She went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in a 12-2 win against Crystal Lake Central in the opener on Tuesday and went 3-for-4 again in an 11-0 win against Vernon Hills on Wednesday.
But she knows when she needs a break, Wauconda coach Tim Orisek said.
“There might be a time or two at practice when we’re doing base-running circuits for conditioning, and she will manage it by taking herself out of the conditioning until she’s able to catch her breath,” he said. “As the weather turns warmer and more humid, it becomes more difficult for her during games.”
Orisek said he can recall only one game that was unusually difficult for Lucht, however. The Bulldogs were engaged in a slugfest against Northern Lake County Conference rival Antioch in a Class 3A sectional championship game on a hot and humid day in June 2021. Lucht still went 3-for-4 with an RBI in Wauconda’s 18-11 loss.
“She really has great speed on the bases, and when she has to leg out a triple, I try and make sure to call timeout to give her a chance to catch her breath,” Orisek said.
Outside softball, Lucht said she enjoys working with Wauconda’s yearbook club. She focuses on design, which includes photography and art, and she helped create the cover for this year’s book. She often brings her camera to football games and classes.
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“I enjoy taking photos of our student section,” she said. “I also take academic photos to show students learning and teachers while they are teaching.”
Lucht, a quiet leader who also enjoys community service, sees connections between her yearbook work and playing softball.
“Working with the yearbook, I’ve learned that working together is very important in a team,” she said. “Being able to work with a fellow yearbook staffer has taught me what it means to work toward a goal together. Without teamwork, a team cannot reach their goal.
“Softball has taught me how to calm down in a stressful situation. As deadlines come for the yearbook, I know how to calm myself and breathe through it.”
Orisek said Lucht is an inspiring player for her team and the community.
“She leads by example and is so humble,” he said. “She has a lot of confidence and plays the game right and very hard. She always puts the team first. She carries herself with a lot of pride and dignity and is extremely well-mannered.”
Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.