Hope Floats

July 14, 2014

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) -- Kahley Novak identifies herself as a softball player. The game she has worked on perfecting since the age of 7 is inextricably linked to her daily life.

The rising senior and three-year starter for the Knights often ponders what the future will entail when she has to step away from the diamond. However, for as much as she cherishes the game, another calling in her life holds just as much a part of her heart.

Novak has been an active member in UCF's Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the last two years and earned the Central Florida region's MVP Award from the organization earlier this spring.

"Kahley is well-respected within the FCA group and the UCF athletics community as a whole, not merely because she is such a good softball player, but rather because her heart is to make a positive difference in this world with her sport as a backdrop," UCF FCA campus director John Evans said. "Her work ethic, integrity and compassion are tangible elements of her deep faith which permeates everything she does."

Novak said she grew up in the church but really started to connect with her faith after a family mission trip to the Dominican Republic in the eighth grade. The Clermont, Fla., native is the offspring of two UCF alums.

Her father, Tommy, played baseball for the Knights from 1985-86. His name is still scattered among the program's record book. His 11 wins during the 1986 season ranks fifth all-time for single-season pitching leaders and his combined 20 wins during his two years in uniform stands among career top-10 marks.

Novak started softball as a 7-year-old, asking her mother's permission to play the same sport as her best friend.

"We went out to the field and it turned out I was kind of good," Novak said. "I worked as hard as I could because that's what I wanted to do. I just felt like softball was pretty much who I was growing up. My dad really pushed me to get to a D-I level."

Not only is she qualified to play at the Division I level, she shines. As the Knights' starting second baseman in 2014, she was honored as an NFCA Mideast All-Region selection after leading UCF in runs (43) and hits (65) to help clinch the American Athletic Conference regular season championship.

On May 7, right around the same time as The American handed out its postseason awards, Novak was pleasantly surprised to find out from Evans that she had won the FCA MVP award.

Participating FCA chapters at the middle school, high school, and college level across central Florida are invited to nominate an MVP from their respective chapters. The FCA MVP Award acknowledges sincere faith, a servant heart, honorable character, consistent leadership and on-field excellence. It is the highest honor bestowed upon student athletes within the regional FCA organization.

"We were at our athletic banquet and things weren't going as good as I thought they were going to be for me," said Novak, who noticeably started to mist up at the recollection. "It was super cool getting it at that time. My faith is just so much more important than all the accolades and awards."

She speaks about FCA the same way she speaks about her teammates - as a unit, as a family.

"The relationships that I've built are relationships I'll probably have for a long time," Novak said. "That's what it's about. It's about making connections with other people to talk about life and go through it together."

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