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[MUSIC PLAYING] The branches of a tree spread
in many different directions, but its strength is
found within its roots. The same can be
said of families. Junior, Olivia Gott, and her
family from Weston, Florida is a shining example. Her older sister Maddie is a
softball standout for Columbia. Her younger sister Sophia,
a Florida State Seminole. All three– clearly unafraid
to strike out on their own. A confidence born from family
tradition, that’s softball. It’s just a family thing. At that point, it was just kind
of like, oh, Saturdays, wake up. Go to the park
for the whole day. And now it’s just
kind of like, wow, we’re both in college playing D1
softball at really good schools academically and athletically. So it’s pretty fascinating. We would always, like, you
know, go in the back yard and throw around until we
got to the point of yelling at each other. And when we played on
the same high school team, when I would
play second or third and she would be
catching, it’s be kind of like that whole
sister telepathy thing where there would
be a runner on. I’d just, like, have to
look at her and be like– and she would just know exactly. Like, next pitch, she’s
throwing down to me, and we’re going to
get this runner out. I definitely think we push
each other, especially hitting. Hitting– my dad will tell you– we both love hitting. My dad actually built a
batting cage in our backyard, so that we could always just
hit and just be competitive. And like, who’s going to hit
one further this weekend? Or like, who’s batting
average is going to be better? How many home runs do you have? And we would always
collect, like, our home run balls from
like recreational ball which is really fun. But I definitely think
in high school ball we definitely pushed each
other to be better players. And it makes us
better people, too. There’s a sense of, like,
competitiveness in me that my sister gave me,
which is really cool. And hopefully, I did
the same thing for her. Maddie committed to Columbia. It was pretty big news for
the city and our family. Also, being that a
lot of our family is from New Jersey and
New York and that area, and she’s going
back to the city. So that was really cool news. And then when I decided
to come to Virginia, it was like, why Virginia? Like, you still got
a younger sister. We don’t know where she’s going. Maddie’s all the
way in the city. And my parents are
back home in Florida. I mean, I didn’t really
pay attention to that. I knew that when I
committed to Virginia I was going to be
in the right place. While Maddy has grown into
an unquestioned leader and an all-conference
performer at Columbia, Olivia has helped
build a foundation of Virginia’s softball
under second year head coach, Joanna Hardin. The younger Gott is
second on the team batting 0.304 with
four home runs. She utilizes her confidence in
leading by voice and example. Yup. Oh, coming in hot. Yup. That’s a run. [INAUDIBLE] running
so many rounds. And if I can keep my
hip square to the plate, and you can do that by
sinking in your front thigh and try to keep
your hands back, you stay in [INAUDIBLE]
through the middle. Yup. We talk about as a
team all the time how leadership is so
lonely, because like you’re putting yourself out there. And anything you say
someone’s going to disagree. But I had to just keep
telling myself, like, it’s for the better of the team. It’s so that this team can be
a great team down the road. So I had to wear that. And I had to say,
OK, people are going to be unhappy no matter what
I say or no matter what I do. But if it’s for the
better for the team, then I have to do that. And I have to lead
the team with the help of our veteran players. I love people. I love taking care
of people, especially if they’re my teammates. I’m going to take them
under my wing again. It’s almost second nature. When the freshmen come in
next year, they’re mine. The veterans are going
to take care of them. And we’re going to make sure
they know what they’re doing. We’re hoping that they trust us. We have our core values– character, unity,
relentlessness, and wholeheartedness. All those things we stick to. So when we come out to
the field to practice, those things are what we think
of when we’re taking a ground ball, when we’re throwing
down to second base, when we’re pitching to a
hitter, when we’re tracking down a ball in the outfield. Those are all things
that we think about. Because we know that when we
establish those core values, they’re going to get us
to where we want to be. Whether that’s winning an ACC
championship in three years, those core values
that we establish are going to help us
get where we want to go. For Virginia softball and Olivia
Gott, the journey is ongoing. But with the roots
they’ve established, overarching games
remain within reach. College softball has
definitely been tough. There’s been some high highs
and some very low lows. And I’m sure any college
athlete can agree with that. But I mean, surely I am
where I’m supposed to be. And you know, by
the grace of God, Maddie’s where she’s
supposed to be. Sophia is where she is. And our parents
are really proud.

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