- Senior center fielder Erin Gillum recently was accepted by UCLA and hopes to be a physician’s assistant some day. Soccer is really her main sport, though she won’t play for the Bruins – more likely, club or intramurals among hundreds of talented classmates.
- Infielder Vicky Jacobo just transferred to UCHS this year and was mentored by an umpire, of all people, who saw her potential, encouraging her to play travel ball. Instead of being a sidelight, softball is everything to the 16-year-old junior.
- And corner infielder/outfielder Jayla Briggs wishes she had an older brother to look out for her in the realities of daily life on this planet.
“Literally, that (softball) is my life,” says Jacobo, reclining on the dugout bench along the third base line in the Centurions’ beautiful two-year-old facility. “That’s all I talk about, think about.”
The utility infielder transferred from Sweetwater last fall, and confides, “I won’t say I didn’t try in softball there, but I didn’t have the motivation.” But Mark, an umpire who called one of her team’s games and took an interest in her future, challenged her to “reach for the stars and don’t be afraid to fall.” Life looks totally different now.
Gillum, meanwhile, is busy serving an internship at Scripps Mercy Hospital through the Biomed “pathway” at UCHS in her interest in serving in the medical field. “I talk to the nurses there,” says the center fielder – “I’m the only lefty on the team, but I kick right-footed. One of the nurses in ICU was dealing with a lot of brain-dead people. I asked her how this goes down. She said it’s depressing. You have to leave it at work.
“So you have to be a little disconnected” to protect your mental and emotional health and to continue to be effective as a nurse, is her take-away at this point.
The senior, presenting as extra responsible as the eldest of three children, is one of coach Mike Roberts’ captains (all seniors). “I think we’re getting better,” Erin says of the Centurions, 6-12 overall, 0-3 in the Western League at this writing, newly moved up to the tougher Division I. “We’re composed. We’re scoring in innings we have to win.” Roberts has been at the helm since 2005.
Briggs, who enjoys reading all types of literature, from mysteries to nonfiction to comedies, talks of the bonding activities team members take part in: “The school has multicultural fairs, and our seniors are really good at organizing us to participate and raise money for the softball program.”
The junior utility player’s motto: “Put God first and work hard now, so it will be routine later.” Asked to break that down, she says, “I come from a Christian family. My uncle is a pastor. I have a special relationship with God.”
That enables her to be sensitive to team dynamics, when teammates begin “tensing up, thinking for themselves, not for the team.”