Guthrie fast-pitches health priorities on and off the field

Perla Tovar

Contributing Writer


Emmy Guthrie’s freshman year in softball at The University of Oklahoma in Norman took an unexpected turn when she faced a medical crisis that led to her being redshirted. Guthrie received a diagnosis that changed her life: ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disease. 

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine, and Guthrie’s journey highlights the challenges faced by students battling health issues while pursuing their athletic dreams. Though medically retiring wasn’t in Guthrie’s playbook, she found herself unable to continue playing softball due to the toll it took on her body. 

Two years later, with the help of a new medication and making dietary adjustments, Guthrie found significant relief. She is navigating the challenges of playing sports with an autoimmune disease once more, but now as a Broncho at The University of Central Oklahoma. 

             Moving from a Division I to a Division II institution did not make much difference, Guthrie said. She shared that both teams’ goals are to compete and strive for the same thing: a national title. 

Getting back on the field and playing the sport Guthrie loves did not come back naturally, especially after taking a year off, but her new teammates and coaches made the challenges much easier, she said.  Guthrie embraced the task of managing both academic pressure and physical discomfort, recognizing the inherent stress of being a student-athlete.  

“I’m learning that every day is a learning process,” Guthrie said. “Some days I feel awful, somedays I feel great. When I feel great, I just try to throw as much as I can and on the days that I do feel bad, I pull myself back. I’m just trying to listen to my body the best that I can.” 

Guthrie learned to manage stress alongside physical discomfort, since being an athlete and going to college as a biology major at the same time is stressful. Acknowledging the difficulty firsthand, Guthrie emphasizes the resilience needed in such circumstances. 

“It’s really hard, it’s gonna be a challenge and you’re gonna have to learn how to work around certain things,”  she said. “But you can do hard things when you put your mind to it. Work when you can work, and if your body is telling you to rest, then you need to rest. You only live once, and I feel like God gifts everyone with something and for me it’s softball and even though circumstances aren’t perfect I have the chance to play and I wanna glorify God in any way that I can to serve a bigger purpose.” 

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