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Danielle Lawrie-Locke Empowers Women On Olympic Journey

(Photo courtesy of WBSC)

When Danielle Lawrie-Locke took the field at the WBSC Softball Americas Qualifier in Canada earlier this month, the 32-year-old had more than just her two daughters, Madison and Audrey, on her mind. Lawrie-Locke, a pitcher for the Canadian national softball team, was thinking about girls and women from all walks of life.

That's because Lawrie-Locke was in the midst of accomplishing an uncommon feat for women with her particular situation. As a mother of two, she was attempting to help Canada qualify for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, which she did with a one-hit performance against Brazil on Sept. 1 that guided the Canadians to a run-rule win and a berth in the 2020 Summer Games.

"Two and a half years ago, I said I wanted to go to the Olympics again," Lawrie-Locke told Softball America in a phone interview. "It’s literally been the steepest climb, but nothing has steered me away from doing it.

"I’m doing it for something bigger than myself. I’m doing it for my two little girls, but I’m also doing it for the women who sometimes don’t believe in themselves."

After retiring from professional softball just after the birth of her first child in 2014, Lawrie-Locke's journey to next summer's Olympics began soon after softball was readmitted into the 2020 Olympic program following its omission from the last two Summer Games.

She got her first taste of the Olympics back in 2008 when she competed for Canada at the Beijing Games at age 21. Canada finished in fourth place in Beijing that year, leaving Lawrie-Locke and her teammates discontent. But now, according to Lawrie-Locke, everything is different for her.

"This is probably the most passionate that I’ve been about something in a really long time, aside from my job and being a mom," Lawrie-Locke, who is also a softball analyst for ESPN, said about her Olympic journey. "At the end of the day, I’m trying to help a team win a gold medal, and if I’m not doing everything in my honest power to be the best that I can be, then I’m cheating myself."

And Lawrie-Locke is holding herself accountable by very publicly sharing all facets of her journey, both high and low, on her social media accounts. For several months now, she has taken her followers through her workouts, time spent with family and just about everything in-between to document the realities of her life as a mother and an elite athlete.

"I’ve had so many people reach out to me with the most sincere messages," said Lawrie-Locke, who starred in college at the University of Washington. "For me, how I go about living my life honestly is to be able to set an example to others that you can do whatever you want to do, if you set your mind to it. I’m all about women empowering women. I really am. I take that very seriously."

Lawrie-Locke's beliefs about the empowerment of women have even had a positive impact on her opponents. Over the weekend, Lawrie-Locke and Team USA pitcher Cat Osterman vocalized their support for one another and their respective paths to Tokyo on social media. Like Lawrie-Locke, Osterman also recently came out of retirement for another shot at Olympic glory and is training and competing with a family at home.

"Now that she’s married and has a stepdaughter and is going through the grind, we’re a little bit similar with our stories in the sense that it’s tough when we’re away from our families," stated Lawrie-Locke, who previously competed with Osterman in the National Pro Fastpitch with the USSSA Pride. "The fact that we kind of have that in common is something that we share now via text messages when she’s struggling and when I am too."

With less than one year until the first pitch is thrown in Tokyo, Lawrie-Locke wants to enjoy every aspect of what remains of her Olympic journey. She plans on retiring for good from playing softball after the 2020 Games. Until then, however, she will continue to embrace the opportunity she has to be a light and an inspiration for women and girls, both in softball and beyond it.

"I want to be an example for other women to do anything they want to," Lawrie-Locke said. "It doesn’t matter if they have kids. It doesn’t matter if they are 12 years old. If you set a goal and you work for it every single day, anything is possible."

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