Virginia high school softball standout and BR-21 James Madison recruit Kate Gordon has always dreamed of playing in the Olympics. But that dream was derailed when the International Olympic Committee removed softball from the games for the 2008 and 2012 games.
But her dream came one step closer to reality this week. Tokyo — the site of the 2020 Olympics— proposed both baseball and softball be returned to the Summer Games.
Gordon grew up immersed in the sport, and has worked her entire life to meticulously perfect her craft. The two-time Virginia 2A softball Player of the Year always knew she wanted play at the highest level.
"I don't mind that it is less popular," Gordon said about devoting her life to softball. "As long as I'm playing the sport that I love, then I'm happy."
Gordon first picked up at bat at age eight. For the next nine years, she spent countless hours suiting up for travel teams, which often required trips across the country. She missed dates, concerts, and weekends with her friends.
But it had to be done. Unlike in football and basketball, travel programs are one of the biggest ways to gain college exposure for hopeful NCAA athletes. NCAA softball coaches don't often scout high school squads. They look to build programs through recruiting players from their travel teams, and Gordon was fully aware.
In the Spring of 2015, all her hard work paid off. Gordon was offered a scholarship to play at James Madison University — the top program in the state of Virginia and one of the 25 best in the country, according to the most recent BennettRank numbers. She also had offers from La Salle and Mount St. Mary's, but couldn't turn down a chance to play for the Dukes. The former Virginia high school star will have her hands full earning playing time at JMU, but considering what she went through to get there, don't be surprised to make it happen.
James Madison head softball coach Mickey Dean said, "Kate has proven to be quite a clutch player. Each time I have been to see her play she has made a dynamic play on defense, or delivered a big hit in a clutch situation. Kate is very versatile, playing shortstop, catcher and in the outfield."
The position she'll play is a discussion for another day however, since for now Gordon is satisfied all of her preparation has led her to the next step in her softball career.
"I've devoted countless hours to this sport." Gordon said. "But I wouldn't change a single thing."