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Why Olivia Aitkin Chose Amherst College

Olivia Aitkin Amherst College.jpg
(Photo by Tina Valdecanas)

Olivia Aitkin made the dreams of her 12-year-old self a reality when she found her perfect fit at Amherst College in Massachusetts. The outfielder will be a freshman this fall for the Amherst Mammoths and she is looking forward to being challenged both on the field and in the classroom.

Softball America had the chance to speak with Aitkin and learn why the high academic road and Division III level was best for her. Read below to learn about her recruiting journey as well as the tips she offers for youth softball players looking to follow a similar path to college.

Softball America: Why did you choose Amherst College?

Olivia Aitkin: I chose Amherst for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a very prestigious school. I chose it because it is a liberal arts college and it has an open curriculum, so I am able to experiment with what classes I can take. It also has one of the few majors in the country that I wanted to study: Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. They also have a very strong leadership program for student-athletes. Amherst’s strong alumni network was another factor in my decision.

SA: How long have you been playing softball?

OA: I have been playing softball since I was 10 years old, so eight years.

SA: When did you realize that you wanted to play softball in college?

OA: I probably realized in 12u. I was at a championship game with my dad for rec ball and I was pitching to him. I said to myself, “I really want to play college ball.”

SA: Did you have a player that you looked up to or watched growing up?

OA: I watched Major League Baseball and I followed Dustin Pedroia a lot growing up.

SA: When you were in the recruiting process, what things were most important to you when finding the right school?

OA: I was looking for a small school that was very academically rigorous, and I was also looking for something that would allow me to explore different academic aspects like traveling abroad, joining clubs, internship opportunities and getting involved in social life.

SA: What are you most excited about for next season?

OA: I’m entering in and they just won their conference championship and made an appearance in regionals. I’m excited to be a part of that culture where it’s extremely competitive, but also really focused on academics.

SA: How are you planning on balancing the rigorous academic load with softball?

OA: Well, for the first half of the academic year for me, NESCAC (New England Small Collegiate Athletic Conference) doesn’t really allow full team practices, so you can do small group practices. I think that will help me ease into college and being an athlete, but at the same time, I think that there will be less of a physical workload and more of a critical thinking workload in the classroom. I think having a schedule will be helpful. I already feel confident with my time management skills because I put them into practice throughout high school since I was in the IB program (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme). It definitely prepares you.

SA: Do you have any tips for youth softball players trying to follow a similar path to high academic schools?

OA: I would say do your research and find a school that really fits you. Also, focus on getting your test scores up and keeping your grades up. If you know where you want to go and you’re passionate about it, it’s that much easier to get recruited.

SA: Do you have any tips for youth softball players going through the recruiting process?

OA: I know I’ve already said it, but it’s super important: make sure you do your research. If you weren’t playing a sport, make sure it’s still a school that you would want to be at.

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