BYU’s smallest softball player supplies huge grit

By on March 11, 2014.

The BYU softball team looks to its smallest player on the field when it needs someone to step up and play big.

Gordy Bravo, a sophomore from Corona, Calif., fills her 5-foot-2 frame with determination and grit. She returns to play after being named to the Easton Fastpitch all-American First Team as a freshman.

Gordy Bravo crow hops in preparation for a throw home during a game last season. Photo courtesy Jaren Wilkey/BYU photo

Gordy Bravo crow hops in preparation for a throw home during a game last season. Photo courtesy Jaren Wilkey/BYU photo

“She is a fighter, in life and on the field,” said softball head coach Gordon Eakin. “She leads by example and just gets the job done.”

Bravo’s current fight is against an injured hamstring. She tweaked it in a tournament early this season and has subsequently missed 10 games.

“My main obstacle this year has been the hamstring pull,” Bravo said. “It has a little tear in it, so I have been out. Not being able to play is killing me.”

However, Bravo is back in action this week — after about a month of physical therapy — and plans to pick up where she left off, pursuing her individual and team goals.

The outfielder learned to be tough as a kid when she ran around with her older brother and his friends.

“I was definitely a tomboy,” Bravo said. “I played with the boys on the street, with my brother’s friends too. I skateboarded, and I road bikes and all that. My dad used to buy us toys. He bought us a go-kart one time. It only lasted a week before we had crashed it. Then he got me this motorcycle, and I broke my wrist. So my mom got rid of that. Then he got us this scooter thing, but the neighbors complained about it, so it got taken away.”

Bravo began her sports career at just 5 years old on a boy’s t-ball team, and by the age of nine she had joined a traveling team. Bravo played all four years of high school at Eleanor Roosevelt High School and traveled during the summers in club ball.

“After high school I had an offer from Virginia, UCLA and North Carolina, and I was talking to Washington, but all of those schools were really far away from home or didn’t seem to be a good fit,” Bravo said. “One day we went to watch Virginia, and they happened to be playing BYU. I liked the way that BYU played softball. So I emailed the coach, took a trip out here, and I was super impressed. It was also close to home, so my mom could drive out and watch me play.”

Eakin was just as impressed with Bravo’s determination as Bravo was with BYU’s program. On the last day of her visit, Bravo asked to meet with Eakin one more time.

“She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Coach, you’re taking me.’ And she was serious. She was determined to be here, and I like to see that in a player,” Eakin said. “That is the type of determination and toughness that she brings to the team and onto the field.”

Bravo claimed she learned to be confident and bold from her mom.

“My mom is my biggest role model for sure,” Bravo said. “She is a very strong, independent woman. She has taught me a lot. She always drove me everywhere for softball.”

Bravo’s teammates are excited to have their smallest outfielder back as they continue their journey toward a conference championship. They reflected on how Bravo contributes to the team.

Fellow teammate and roommate Megan Arnold said, “Her determination when she sets her mind to something is incredible. Her willingness to take things to the next level makes a big impact on the team.”

“One swing from Gordy can change the whole game,” said infielder Coco Tauali’i.

Bravo is not a Latter-day Saint but said she is part of a tight-knit team.

“There are no fights,” she said. “There are no cliques. Whenever we get together, we invite the whole team. We are so comfortable around each other that it keeps us really loose, and on the field we can trust each other.”

Softball is not just a short-term interest for Bravo but an important part of her long-term goals.

“As a little kid, my dream was to play in the pros and then travel around the world,” Bravo said. “In 10 years from now, hopefully I will be married and have a cute little kid and just be loving life. My big dream is to be the head coach of a Division I softball team.”

Bravo spends her free time frequenting Happy Sumo with her teammates, jamming out to reggae music and going out dancing with friends.

Bravo brings her determination and charisma back to the plate as the Cougars enter a tournament in Hawaii on March 12.