One junior describes a softball season of parking lot Subway sandwiches and seemingly endless rainouts
Junior Katie Gould, a utility player for the softball team, just wants to get back on the field. The softball team has had their past six games canceled or postponed due to weather or opponent COVID concerns, but when the team has been able to play, Gould has made a huge impact for the Bears. Gould leads the team with 14 runs and is tied with teammate junior Nicole Hay for the most hits with 18. Through 14 games, she has a batting average of .383 and a slugging percentage of .447. Gould sat down with Student Life to talk about her introduction to softball, strange bus ride experiences and why she’s excited for her senior season.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Student Life: Why softball? Did you try other sports, or were you always sure that you wanted to play that specifically?
Katie Gould: Growing up, I played soccer, basketball, volleyball and softball, so I was a very multi-sport kid. And then once I got to high school, I realized that I have to start choosing, because my weekends were getting busy. It’s hard to play two sports in high school. So I was between soccer and softball in the end, and I don’t know if there’s an exact moment, but I think I just liked softball a little bit more.
SL: I’m sure your parents were pretty busy on the weekends then, driving you to all those games! Did you have a softball league near you?
KG: My hometown had a recreational softball league that I played in until I was 10. And then I went to play travel ball—basically like the club version.
SL: So was playing college ball always you wanted to do? Or was that something that evolved over the past few years of high school?
KG: Yeah, it was always a goal of mine to play in college. And I did the whole recruiting process of high school, emailing coaches, sending skills videos and stuff like that. As I got older, in junior and senior year of high school, I realized that I want to focus more on academics and that’s how I started to narrow down schools like Wash. U.
SL: Did you visit Wash. U.? Is there anything that specifically drew you to it?
KG: I’m from Los Angeles, and Wash. U. wasn’t that popular out there, so I had never heard of it until I had a softball tournament in St. Louis. The coach from Wash. U. was there, and that’s when I first heard of the name. And then I visited the campus when I was here for that tournament, and then I stayed in touch with the coach. It was more just a coincidence of having a tournament in St. Louis, because I don’t think I would have heard of the school any other way.
SL: Wow. So you come for a tournament and ended up here for four years! And I’m also from a state where no one really knows where Wash. U. is.
KG: Yeah, I even have to explain what state St. Louis is in to people too.
SL: So talk to me about this season so far. It’s definitely been unique playing a lot of non-UAA teams, but at least you guys have been able to play, right?
KG: I’m very thankful to have a season. Like my friend at N.Y.U., they didn’t have a season this year, so I’m just glad to have games. It is definitely different from my freshman year—then, we didn’t have any bus trips, and we only flew to different places to play. And then this year, we can’t do overnights, so the games are just day long bus trips to play. So it’s definitely a whole different vibe, but I’m just glad to play.
SL: Yeah, how are those day-long bus trips? I know you’re not able to eat or drink on them—there are a bunch of restrictions, right?
KG: Yeah, on one of our trips, we had to pick up Subway, and then we weren’t allowed to eat it on the bus. We pulled over to a gas station parking lot, and our whole team was just on the ground in the parking lot, eating, because we weren’t allowed to eat on the bus.
SL: It’s just another marker of how much things have changed over the past year. Looking at your schedule though, you haven’t been able to get in too many games even having a pretty busy schedule—a lot of your past couple games have gotten canceled.
KG: The first few games were canceled because it rained here, so our field was unplayable. And then we had some away games, but it was raining there as well. And then the next set of games against UChicago, the school had a stay-at-home order because of a rise of COVID cases. And then the last one was it snowed yesterday, so we couldn’t play in that.
SL: Seems like you’ve just had a string of bad luck.
KG: Very bad luck to have a game for the only snow day of April.
SL: I’m sure you’re all eager to play after practicing. You talked a little bit about the bus restrictions—what other restrictions have been hard this season?
KG: Staying distanced has been a challenge. For example, usually when someone hits a home run, we all run out to like home plate and celebrate. There’re a lot of high fives, a lot of head pats, and we can’t really do that this year. So it’s a challenge of still being energetic and excited for each other, but from a distance. I guess that has been a bit of a challenge, having that enthusiasm but safely.
SL: Yeah. Do you feel like you’ve still been able to maintain that enthusiasm, especially for the underclassmen who don’t know anything else?
KG: I think we definitely have still kept that enthusiasm, maybe even more than past years since we know that there’s already an obstacle in the way. Like, we wear masks when we play obviously, and communication is always a challenge on the team. I think we’ve done a really good job this year of being even more clear with that communication. We do a lot of hand signals since you can’t really see if someone’s talking to you if it’s really loud on the field.
SL: And right now, there are only two seniors on the team. Next year, I know that you guys have a bunch of freshmen coming in. So are you excited to be a senior with such a big freshman class and take a leadership role?
KG: Yeah, I’m definitely excited to have more people on the team and 10 new people to get to know. And I’m excited to help lead the team— it’ll be interesting, but nice.
SL: What are you most excited for? Are there any fun softball traditions that you want to bring back with fewer restrictions in the future?
KG: We were able to do it this year, but there’s a tradition for the freshmen to decorate the locker room and add a bunch of stuff. The freshmen this year added a blow-up palm tree. And like my year, we hung up flamingos and wrote little notes to everyone on their lockers. It’s a tradition I always want to keep around because it makes going in the locker room fun. This year we have capacity limits in the locker room, so only three people can be in there at a time. I think I just miss right before practice or lift when we would all sit in there and talk or some people would be half asleep. I’m glad to be able to bring that back when COVID restrictions are over, and I want the freshmen this year to experience that since they haven’t yet.
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