Young Voices of SEE US: Gabby Herrera
Gabby Herrera is a senior at Linden High School in Linden, CA. She started playing softball when she was four years old, and has not stopped since then. Herrera is a four-year starter at her high school, a two time All-League First Team honoree, an All-State Small Schools Nominee, and an All-City Nominee. She plays year-round competitive softball in the Sorcerer’s organization, and loves every challenge that it brings her. Herrera committed to the University of Oregon on October 1, 2019 and signed her Letter of Intent on November 13, 2019.
When did you first realize that softball was your passion?
I think I realized softball was my real passion when I was a freshman in high school. Before then, I had always played because my parents had signed me up and I never put in the extra work. After I got to high school, I sacrificed a social life to be excellent at what I did, which led me to develop a true passion and respect for the game of softball.
What has been the biggest reason for your success as a player?
The biggest reason for my success as a softball player is my dad. I always wanted to make him proud, and doing so has always instilled an extra drive in me to be the best I could be. My dad gained his love for sports from his father, my grandfather, and therefore passed it down to me which I have always appreciated. Softball is my favorite thing he has ever given me. I’ll forever remember the time I’ve spent with both of them and everything they’ve taught me. Everything I do is to make them proud.
What was your recruiting experience? Why did you pick Oregon? Were there others in the running?
My recruiting experience was one of mixed emotions; it consisted of many long days and nights putting together film & highlight videos, sending out emails to hundreds of different schools, and doing extensive research on what each university entailed. Each time I found myself doing one of these things, I always reminded myself that there’s a place for everyone to play, as long as they’re willing to go anywhere, to any school, and play in any division. I picked Oregon because it was always a dream school for me, but it had always seemed too far-fetched to be attainable. Oregon is the perfect scenario any athlete could dream up— the coaches, facilities, school, team, and fans are second to none. Oregon was my number one pick as soon it became an option, but some other schools in the running included University of the Pacific, Dartmouth College, the University of North Dakota, the University of Iowa, Sacred Heart University, and Cornell University.
People aren't always supportive of female athletes' achievements. Have you received any backlash in your career?
Any time that anyone hears I’m going to Oregon, there’s always people who are skeptical. A football player from our rival school unknowingly asked my brother about “the kid going to Oregon” and proceeded to ask if the “boy” played football or basketball. My brother told him that it was in fact a girl, who played softball that had received a scholarship to play, and that ironically it happened to be his sister.
As a woman in sports, I’m constantly reminded of the fact that “girls’ sports are easier than boys’ sports." Baseball players constantly remind us that we pitch from closer distances, that our fences are not as far, and that the pitches don’t come as fast. They forget the closer the distance, the less reaction time we have. They forget the ball is more dense, making it harder to hit as far. Lastly, they forget the pitch is not coming as fast, but the movement and the ball coming from that close is equivalent to that of a baseball.
Have you ever been judged on appearance rather than ability?
Women are rarely seen as athletes. Some of the best athletes in the world are female; Simone Biles, Serena Williams, Jennie Finch, Alex Morgan, and Sabrina Ionescu, just to name a few.
However, when outsiders look at me, I’m looked at not as an athlete, but rather as a teenage girl. I dream of the day that I’ll be given the same opportunity as the boys at my school and in society in general, specifically in sports.
When people think of Oregon softball today, many people admire Haley Cruse. What was your first impression of Haley? Will the famous Oregon dance videos continue after she graduates?
I never had the opportunity to meet Haley personally, but my first impression was that she’s the athlete all of us aspire to be. We all want to maintain the persona of a happy-go-lucky player. She isn’t concerned about the things she can't control and focuses on those she can, like her attitude and making each game fun. COVID-19 has made it a true realization that each game could truly be our last, and athletes like Haley have had their final seasons cut short. I feel for each and every one of them. I believe that the dance videos will continue long after Haley Cruse and Jas Sievers have moved on, and will become an important piece of the Oregon softball legacy.
What are you looking forward to about being a Division I athlete?
I’m most looking forward to having the chance to compete for a National Championship for my school. I love the idea that I could one day be playing on television, and under my name people will see “Linden, California.” Where I’m from, hometown pride is important. To be added alongside Aaron Judge as an athlete to come out of Linden would mean everything to me.
Welcome to the Queen of the Court Blog! Our goal is to give more visibility to female athletes and showcase the impact SEE US has. Expect professional athlete interviews, examples of sexism in sports, collegiate athlete stories, high school athlete stories, SEE US updates, and more. If you have any blog ideas or want to be featured, contact SEE US!