An exclusive interview with Olivia Pichardo
The GIST: In honor of Title IX Day, we sat down with a player who’s not only carrying on the law’s legacy, but also building one of her own: Brown University sophomore Olivia Pichardo, who became the first woman to make a DI baseball roster last November before officially shattering the DI glass ceiling by stepping to the plate this spring.
- Pichardo’s the real deal — she even has her own aforementioned Topps baseball card dropping in August — and her grit and determination are straight-up inspirational.
When asked how she fell in love with baseball, Pichardo credits her sporty parents, saying, “[My dad] put me in Little League when I was six years old…and I just kept playing from there because I was good at it.” She dabbled in other sports, and even became a whiz at solving Rubik’s cubes, but baseball quickly became her passion.
While most young girls play softball, Pichardo “never really had a feeling that [she] wanted to play it. They’re similar sports, but they’re also pretty different.” Even so, she says, “At every level I progressed to in baseball, people would encourage me more and more to play softball or talk to me as if it’s an inevitable thing…I just kept sticking with baseball, and it’s working out so far.” We’ll say!
After beginning the college recruiting process as a high school freshman, Pichardo turned down several offers from DII and DIII baseball programs (and interest from some top-tier softball schools) to pursue history as a walk-on at Brown because of their academic chops. She wears baseball pants and smarty-pants.
As far as being a trailblazer, the woman who threw 100 mph at age 15 said, “There is a pressure. It kind of feels like whatever I do on the field…is representative of women in general. It’s impossible to completely rid myself of [it], but I think it’s also kind of a good thing, so that I’m always kept on my toes and always making sure that I’m working really hard.”
- But the only folks to judge, she says, are simply online haters. “Everybody has opinions that they want to share, and they’re entitled to their opinion…They can say what they want to say.” Cue Taylor.
Though Pichardo didn’t have a lot of baseball gals to idolize as a kid, she’s now inspired by players like the Atlantic League’s Kelsie Whitmore, and front office barrier-breakers like the Miami Marlins’ GM Kim Ng and her hometown NY Mets’ director of operations Elizabeth Benn — and she’s paving her own path as a role model for the baseball girls coming after her.
- Her advice to young girls in male-dominated sports? Hit the gym: “You just have to work extra hard in the weight room…If you want to be better, you have to be stronger… There’s no lower standards for you because you’re a girl. You have to keep up.”