TAMPA, Fla. — A gift of athleticism isn’t just innate for Astin Donovan, it’s a part of her relentless pursuit of success.
This Connecticut native, and freshman on the University of South Florida softball team, has outdone herself since becoming a regular starter for the currently red-hot Bulls.
The freshman’s talents athletically have also led her to rare opportunities including a call by the U.S. junior national team where she will represent her country during the World Cup of Softball, and International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Women’s World Championship this summer.
“I couldn’t believe it, and at first I was like ‘Are you serious?’ I didn’t even know that was a thing you could get nominated for,” Donovan said.
“And then when I called my mom it just hit me all of a sudden and I just broke down crying. It was one of those things where you say ‘Oh, I want to go to the Olympics’ but for it to actually happen or have the opportunity, it was just unreal.
“I went to the tryouts and I made the alternate team. So I’ll do everything with them, I’ll travel with them, practice with them and go to all the games.”
Donovan’s long commitment to sport is currently seen in her tie with fellow freshman Mia Fung for third in the American Conference with five steals, as well as her outstanding third place position on the team with 12 runs and 12 hits so far in the season.
“It’s all so unreal because I know personally how hard I’ve worked and everyday when I go out there and train and all I’ve wanted to do was go out there start and make an impact,” she said. “And for me to actually come here and fulfill apart of my goal is just … I can’t believe it sometimes”
It is not difficult to see how Donovan’s athletic form has grown as the Donovan family’s landscape is filled with influences from her father’s football years at Geneva College, in Pennsylvania, to the freshman’s early years as a competitive gymnast.
“I fell in love with [gymnastics], stayed with it for eight years and I went to regionals and stuff and I was placed on top categories. But at the end of it, my body just couldn’t take it anymore. My joints were hurting and my back would hurt every single day.”
Despite the unfortunate end of her love affair with gymnastics, Donovon’s heart had and always will lie with softball – the sport she will continue to thrive in.
“It just comes from the fact that I love it so much, it comes natural,” she said. “So it’s not like ‘Oh I got to go to practice’ it’s like ‘Oh I get to go to practice’. I look forward to it.”
Follow Lauren Maharaj on Twitter @l_maharaj40