International Left Handers Day: 10 lefty student-athletes who made the most of their time in college
August 13 is International Left Handers Day, a time to celebrate people inclined to use their left hands to throw a ball, catch a pass or swing a bat. It’s oft-repeated knowledge that lefties tend to be more abundant in sports because they’re statistically rarer (only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed), and thus are harder to plan for.
But sometimes it’s hard to spot a southpaw in the middle of a high-flying game, so we did the dirty work for you and found some of the greatest lefties who’ve left their respective marks on the NCAA world in various sports:
We’ll start this off by looking at some names plenty of people know — but not everyone is aware they dominated by using their left hands.
Bill Russell, F, San Francisco
Russell led USF on a staggering streak of dominance during his college years, averaging 20.7 points per game, winning two Player of the Year awards and leading the Dons to two national titles.
Mark Spitz, swimmer, Indiana
Spitz once called choosing to attend Indiana “the biggest decision of [his] life.” He won eight NCAA titles before going on to set seven world records and winning seven gold medals in the 1972 Summer Olympics.
Brendan McKay, P/1B, Louisville
McKay, a two-way player drafted fourth overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in this past June's MLB draft, batted .341 with 18 home runs and 57 RBI in 2017, while going 11-3 with a 2.56 ERA and 146 strikeouts on the mound.
Monica Abbott, P, Tennessee
Abbott recorded at least 500 strikeouts in each of her four years with the Volunteers, won 189 games and tallied an ERA of 0.79 in 206 starts. She was possibly the most dominant softball pitcher in NCAA history.
Steve Young, QB, BYU
Young grew dramatically each year at BYU, finishing his collegiate career with 56 passing touchdowns, 18 rushing touchdowns, including a senior year with a 168.5 passer rating and a dramatic TD reception in a Holiday Bowl win over Missouri.
Now it’s time to bring things up to speed and spot a few lefties doing work lately, either during last season or heading into the 2017-18 year:
Paige Parker, P, Oklahoma
Parker, the Most Outstanding Player in the 2016 WCWS, has 92 wins in 133 appearances through her junior year, along with a 1.58 career ERA, 70 complete games, and 755 strikeouts in 679.2 innings.
A’ja Wilson, F, South Carolina
Wilson, an All-American and 2017 SEC Player of the Year, already leads South Carolina in career blocks with a full season left. She averaged 17.9, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game last year for the national champion Gamecocks.
Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Brunson is a rising star in the Big East, and he’s positioned to become Villanova’s go-to guy. Brunson averaged 14.7 points and dished out 4.1 assists per game last year, and he’s only getting better.
Kelsey Mitchell, G, Ohio State
The 2016-17 Big 10 Player of the Year averaged 22.6 points per game in 2017, surpassed the career 2,000-point mark midway through the year, and became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in career threes — with a season to go.