18-Year-Old Makes History As She Becomes Columbia University’s First Black Softball Player

by Gee NY
18-Year-Old Olivia Madkins Makes History As She Becomes Columbia University's First Black Softball Player

Olivia Madkins, an 18-year-old freshman outfielder and sociology major at Columbia University, has made history by becoming the first Black player on the university’s women’s softball team since its inception.

Madkins, who hails from Los Angeles, California, has been playing softball since she was 8 years old.

Despite being 3,000 miles away from home, she knew that Columbia University was the right fit for her after attending a recruiting camp in the summer of 2021.

Upon receiving the official offer from Columbia, Madkins learned that she would be the first Black player on the team. Despite the initial shock, she was determined to make the most of her opportunity.

“I just knew that that would make my opportunity here that much more special,” Madkins said. “I’ve always thought of softball as a means for me to do bigger things with my life. I just saw an opportunity to do good for a lot of people and really empower my community.”

Madkins’ journey to Columbia was not without challenges. Growing up in a family of athletes, including her father, former NBA player Gerald Madkins, she was surrounded by a culture of sports excellence. However, she was determined to carve out her own path and make a name for herself in the world of softball.

“As a freshman, Madkins has accepted the opportunity, whether calling pitches from the dugout or pinch-hitting in close games,” said Columbia head coach Jennifer Teagues. “Her goal is to pave the way for herself and the women who will come after her.”

Madkins’ parents have been instrumental in her journey, providing support and encouragement every step of the way. Her father, in particular, has mentioned to her the importance of using her platform to uplift others and make a positive impact in her community.

“I tell her all the time, ‘you have to take advantage of what’s in front of you, it’s not your fault who your dad is,’ ” Gerald Madkins said. “You’ve been given an opportunity to do some things, can you use the opportunity you’ve been given to help others?’ And I think that’s exactly what she’s done.”

Madkins hopes to inspire other young Black girls to pursue their dreams and never give up, regardless of the challenges they may face.

“Just seeing over the years how the game has grown, has made me feel really confident stepping into this role,” Madkins said. “Seeing Black girls compete on the biggest stage makes you superexcited and want to be a part of that.”

As Madkins’ career progresses, her determination remains unwavering. She is committed to breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations of Black athletes in softball.

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