A Brown University student has become the first women of color in NCAA Division I history to make a varsity baseball roster.
Olivia Pichardo, 18, said she always knew she could play in the male-dominated sport and began playing baseball when she was 5. The Queens, NY native, who enrolled at Brown earlier this year, said she would participate in baseball walk-on tryouts on campus and would engage in rigorous week-long assessment processes that included working out and practicing with current players.
It wasn’t easy she said, but she knew she had what it took to play alongside the other players. She added that she was ecstatic but shocked when it was announced she made the team.
“It was definitely a surreal moment for me because it’s something that I’ve wanted since eighth grade,” Pichardo told Brown University’s online publication. “It’s kind of crazy to know that I’m living out my dream right now and my ideal college experience that I’ve always wanted, so that’s really cool.”
No women has ever made the NCAA Division I level although “nearly 20 women have been members of collegiate baseball rosters at various schools, with at least eight slated to suit up for the 2023 season,” according to Baseball for All, a nonprofit geared towards enhancing general equity in baseball.
With these odds against her, Pichardo says she is grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to play at the Division I level.
“I’m just really glad that we’re having more and more female baseball players at the collegiate level, and no matter what division, it’s just really good to see this progression,” Pichardo said. “It’s really paving the way for other girls in the next generation to also have these goals that they want to achieve and dream big and know that they can do it.”
Brown University Baseball Head Coach Grant Achilles says he couldn’t be prouder of Pichardo for her passion, determination and ambition to succeed.
“Every fall, we hold tryouts for students interested in joining our team,” said Achilles. “It’s a workout common for baseball and allows us to evaluate athleticism and arm strength, as well as both offensive and defensive skills. Olivia put together the most complete walk-on tryout I have seen from a player since becoming a head coach.”