Write up Courtesy of Luke Robson
For this week’s Game Changer, the Penn State Sports Business Conference team has chosen to highlight Olivia Pichardo, Brown University’s newest member of their Division I baseball team. Pichardo recently made a name for herself in the record books by becoming the first woman to make the roster of an NCAA Division I baseball team.
Olivia joined the Forest Hills Little League team in Queens, New York, when she was five years old, and it was there that she fell in love with baseball. After learning the basics at Forest Hills, Pichardo went on to excel on various travel and club teams such as the New York Crush and Next Level Baseball, as well as on her high school team known as Garden School.
When she was off the field, Olivia transferred her hard work and determination to the classroom. In high school, she was elected to serve as the student council president for Garden School where she went on to earn a 5.2 GPA and Honor Roll each and every year. Due to her excellence both on the field and in the classroom, Pichardo received interest from, but more importantly was accepted into, schools such as UNC Chapel Hill, UVA, USC, Michigan, University Rochester, Boston University, and more.
As if that was not enough, Olivia also secured a spot on the USA Baseball Women’s National Team as an outfielder and right-handed pitcher before arriving at Brown University. During her time with Team USA, she started all five games against Team Canada, four in the outfield and one on the pitcher’s mound. Pichardo finished the series against Team Canada with two hits, three RBIs, a .182 batting average, and three complete innings pitched without allowing any earned runs.
Once she arrived at Brown, Pichardo was a little nervous to try out for the team because she would be competing against other great athletes, but she had thrived in these types of situations all her life. After all was said and done, the head coach of Brown University’s Division I baseball team, Grant Achilles, stated that Olivia had put together the most complete walk-on tryout that he had ever seen since becoming head coach.
After the tryout, Coach Achilles informed Pichardo that she had earned a spot on the roster for the upcoming season, making her the first woman to ever do so at the Division I level. Originally, Olivia thought that the other players in the locker room would not be excited by this news, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Everyone in the room gave her a standing ovation and praise while ensuring that she felt welcomed on the team. Ultimately, this made Pichardo feel at home and proved to herself that she had made the right decision by coming to Brown.
All in all, Olivia Pichardo has defied stereotypes by becoming the first woman to make a Division I NCAA baseball roster rather than listening to others who told her to switch to softball. Her perseverance in the sport is just the beginning of paving the way for other female athletes to pursue their passions regardless of what society thinks is appropriate. With that being said, the Penn State Sports Business Conference team could not be prouder to name Olivia Pichardo as this week’s Game Changer.