UCLA's Maya Brady Was Destined For Athletic Success
Whether she liked it or not, Maya Brady was probably always destined to be an athlete. Her uncles are only six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and two-time World Series champion Kevin Youkilis.
The pair have had their influence on Maya Brady, but they’re not the only ones. Maya’s mom, Maureen Brady, was the one who pushed her down the path of sports because she was surrounded by it herself. Maureen Brady, a 1994 All-American pitcher at Fresno State, established her daughter’s love to compete.
“Sports have been huge ever since I was little. I always remember competing all the time,” Maya Brady told Softball America during a phone interview. “She just really ingrained in me the love of the game. She always coached my teams when I was little. She’s just always so supportive and always assuring that the love of the game is still in there.”
Brady, Softball America’s second overall 2019 High School Softball Recruit, started her own legacy at UCLA this season. The freshman made a stunning entrance to the college softball world at Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament. She finished with a .500 batting average, four home runs and nine RBI. She kept the production up at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational that included a grand slam against South Florida and seven total RBI over the weekend.
Her choice to be a Bruin goes far beyond the program’s 12 national championships as well. Everything offered to her at UCLA mattered more than sport itself.
“UCLA was my dream school just because it’s so close to where I live,” said Brady, the Thousand Oaks, Calif. native. “My family is literally the most important thing to me. It’s close enough for my grandparents to come to my games. It goes so much further than softball for me. Getting a UCLA degree, the family atmosphere that we have within the team and everyone is so bought in. You can just tell from the outside that everyone is always having a lot of fun.
“I’ve always been fascinated with UCLA and I just love it so much now that I’m here. It’s just such a great opportunity.”
Another reason Brady ended up a Bruin was the coaching staff led by head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez and assistant coach Lisa Fernandez. According to Brady, her mom wanted her to be surrounded by other moms because she knew they’d be nurturing and caring.
Brady has been given the chance to make a name for herself. Inouye-Perez has slotted her into the heart of the batting order and defensively in center field. The Bruins needed to fill the void in center field at Easton Stadium left by Bubba Nickles after she made the Women’s National Team for this year’s Olympics.
Nickles and Brady had limited interactions before Nickles departed for her obligations, but she made enough of an impression on Brady for her to understand the role she was taking on.
“Only practicing with her for a short amount of time, she’s just a natural leader, a really great teammate and a really great person,” Brady said. “It’s a great opportunity for me. It’s honoring that my teammates and my coaches would even feel comfortable even to put me out there.”
The Bruins have really great team chemistry as a whole in Brady’s opinion, a big reason she’s felt comfortable at the college level this quickly. She had already established a small connection with shortstop Brianna Perez from their time playing together with the Orange County Batbusters, but one of her best bonds is one of the newest. As most freshmen do, Brady found a veteran player to latch onto, and for her it was Aaliyah Jordan.
“We have gotten really close. She’s just someone that I look up to a lot,” Brady said. “All my teammates in their own way I look up to them, they’re all great role models for me. But Aaliyah is just someone I really idolized.”
It’s only been 11 games into her career, but it’s easy to see the talent Brady holds. The fast start to her career has helped settle her nerves because she didn’t know what to exactly expect following high school and travel ball. Jordan and her teammates’ helping hands created the bridge for Brady to get over the nervousness, and now it’s full steam ahead.
For Brady, the athlete whose life has been about sports since its beginning, she wants to be known for being the person Maya Brady.
“I want to be known as a great person, a great teammate, someone that worked as hard as they could every single day,” Brady said. “Someone that was a competitor, a great friend more than anything.”