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What It Was Like For Danielle Gibson To Go From College To Pros

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(Photo courtesy of Athletes Unlimited)

Danielle Gibson had to make the quick shift from the Division I level to professional softball after finishing her collegiate playing career at the University of Arkansas in the NCAA Super Regionals just two weeks before the start of the AUX season.

As one of just 13 collegiate players to be drafted by Athletes Unlimited for the 2022 season, Gibson signed on to play in both the AUX and AU Championship seasons.

Softball America spoke with the All-American first baseman for the Razorbacks about the challenges and opportunities she has encountered so far during her rookie summer of professional softball.

Softball America: What was the transition like for you from college to the pro level?

Danielle Gibson: The transition for me on the field was not anything crazy. I really felt like I fit right in with how I run the defense, how I communicate on the field, my pitch selection and my competitive drive. I think that when you hold yourself to a standard like I did my junior and senior year, the transition is very smooth.

SA: How did playing for Arkansas help prepare you for Athletes Unlimited?

DG: Just being able to rely on my own confidence...to know that I belong here is something that has really helped me lean on my own abilities to get through the professional season.

SA: What does it mean to you to play with Athletes Unlimited?

DG: I think AU and what they are doing with their women's sports and the fact that it's only women's sports is just something I feel very fortunate to be a part of.

SA: What is it like facing the pitching at the Athletes Unlimited level?

DG: The pitcher is going to get her own success off of me. You are going to fail, and rightfully so—you are facing great athletes. So what I need to do is manage my emotions and manage my competitiveness to be able to come back and kind of tip my cap to her so now I can have my turn at being successful.

SA: What was the biggest part of the transition from college ball to pro ball?

DG: I think that the transition people don’t really talk about is how you're literally your own agent, player and you're managing yourself in a professional setting and a softball setting all in one. That was hard for me to grasp because I am used to a coach or an athletic trainer telling me what I can and can’t do. I think that was eye-opening to the real world, and I am glad I got to do it in a softball setting.

SA: What was it like to be a team captain during the AUX season?

DG: These girls are out there to win, they are just competitors, they get the game, they get the points system. I think the biggest part for me (as a captain) was trusting them and what they do.

I think that I gained a lot of respect because I didn't just go through the facilitator as a rookie. I made sure that everyone knew that I was making the decisions, and so I think all the professionals can really appreciate that.

SA: What is your advice for future pro softball rookies?

DG: My advice for future draftees is to be a little starstruck. Understand that this is something you have dreamt of your entire life. Play with these women who shared the field before you, but then also lean on them to gain your confidence.

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