Pictured back row, from left, Rage coach Thomas Suthard, Rappahannock Softball JV Coach Mike Baker, Little League coach Glenn Marks, Adrenaline coach Nigel Mulvena, Rage coach Terri Suthard, Rappahannock Softball varsity coach Ellen Gaines; seated from left, Walker, Olivia and Mary Bob Gaulding. See video report online at www.northernnecknews.com
Nearly a year ago, Rappahannock senior Olivia Gaulding said she was unsure what her plans were after high school. But with a bit of positive remarks and personal efforts, Gaulding is now reaping the rewards and is setting her eyes on playing collegiate softball.
For most of her high school period, Gaulding toured Milligan College in Tennessee—a place where her sister attended—and an institution she soon fell in love with.
Last Sunday, her idea of life after Rappahannock High School came a bit clearer. Celebrating her 18th birthday at the same time with her family members and friends at home, Gaulding witnessed her wish come true signing her national letter of intent to play at Milligan College.
“My most exciting moment was the tryout for Coach [Wes] Holly and meeting him. That was probably my highlight of this whole process,” said Gaulding. “You’re already working hard and you’re hoping he’ll be interested in you, but once you meet him, he just has that personality that motivates you even more. Nothing beats getting that national letter of intent, but that was just awesome getting to meet him and hearing him say that he is interested in me.”
Last spring, a college scout gave her a bit of encouragement to try out for college softball after he witnessed Gaulding in a softball tournament with her travel softball team, Northern Neck Adrenaline. It was a at that point she became motivated to purse the idea as she brought together her coaches and family members to begin training for one school, Milligan College.
“It’s always been a dream of mine. I would’ve made a tape, but I don’t think I would’ve worked as hard [physically]. I didn’t think I was up to that level…or could play at that level,” Gaulding said.
Since the spring, Gaulding said she feels like she is in great shape, runs faster and lost 10 pounds after an intense regiment of working out and eating healthier.
Gaulding said she was impressed with the school after seeing her sister Kylie become a statudent at the instituition. The senior was also impressed with the success of the award-winning softball program and when the team competed against the U.S.A. Olympic Softball team a few years ago.
“Everything I want is there and distance is not a big issue,” Gaulding said, adding that she plans to major in occupational therapy.
“I knew Coach Holly was interested in me and was looking for me, but I just wasn’t sure if it was going to work out,” Gaulding admitted.
It wasn’t until Gaulding returned from a mission trip in Haiti that she found out the news after being accepted into the college.
“I saw a big package from and it said ‘Milligan Athletics Department and…I just can’t describe the feeling I had. It was awesome. I didn’t even have to open it because I knew what it was.”
Until she joins the Milligan Buffaloes, Gaulding is preparing to help her high school softball team this season after winning the Region A Division 1 Title and making it to the state tournament.
“I’m hoping we can get a little farther than what we did last year. We go pretty far last year and I’m really proud of how we did,” Gaulding said. “I just want to be a big assest to our team and do as well as we can to have a big year for ourselves and our seniors.”
Gaulding originally started playing softball with the Richmond County Little League, and progressed to playing travel softball with the East Coast Diamonds, Northern Neck Rage and Northern Neck Adrenaline.
In attendnace for her isgning was her high school coaches Ellen Gaines, Mike Baker, Rage coach Thomas and Terri Suthard, Adrenaline coach Nigel Mulvena and Little League coach Glenn Marks.