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In sports, it is the sweat and tears that makes one stronger.
|Olivia Galati will stay close to home when she attends Hofstra next season.|
One New Yorker knows what it takes to be the best. This athlete never rests, is never satisfied and always finds a way to work harder and improve.
It's not Derek Jeter or Johnny Damon. It is Yankee fan and softball stud Olivia Galati.
Galati is a senior at St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.) High School. While she tries to catch as many Yankee games as she can, she admits that softball takes up the majority of her time.
"I live, eat and breathe softball," she said. "I try to practice every day."
Practicing everyday is how Galati improves on an already impressive resume. Despite being first team all-state last year and in the running for the Gatorade Player of the Year honors, Galati feels the need to progress as an athlete.
"I'm never satisfied with how I perform. I always strive for something better," she said.
With that drive comes hours of relentless practice. Galati has been a workhorse since she first began playing the sport.
"When I was younger I used to throw 300 pitches every day in the basement with my dad and everything had to be perfect."
She practiced this way for years with her dad, who was always beside her. He encouraged her to be the best player she could be.
"Both of my parents have been supportive," said Galati. "My dad has been one of my coaches and has been there with me since the beginning."
When Galati was young she watched her dad and sister play Wiffle Ball in the front yard. When her dad asked if she wanted to play she joined in. It wasn't until Galati started hitting balls over the house that her dad realized that he had a real ball player on his hands and their hard work began.
"My dad studied pitchers, read books and practiced for hours with me in the basement. He catches for me and I hit off of a Nerf machine and hopefully nothing breaks. We put up blankets but they usually fall down. Let's just say I have broken a lot of windows."
Besides the endless hours of practice on the field and in her basement, Galati found other ways to get in a quick workout. She admitted that she and her dad use regular everyday tasks as an opportunity to improve.
"Everything is a learning experience," she said. "Even when I'm walking up stairs I will do high knees. When I put paper in the fire place my dad has me snap my wrist and throw the papers in like I'm throwing a screw ball."
Galati never tires of trying to improve. Maybe that is what gave her an edge and helped her to earn a spot on the Hofstra roster.
"It was rough but it paid off," said Galati.
It definitely paid off, as top programs recruited Galati. Hoftsra allowed her to stay close to home and provided the first-rate academics, which was a priority.
"For a while I wanted to go away, but something clicked and I decided I wanted to stay on the East Coast," said Galati.
Even before arriving on campus, Galati already set goals for her collegiate career.
"Hofstra has all East Coast kids and I want to go there and get to the Women's College World Series with all East Coasters," she said.
For now, Galati is focusing on her high school season, taking a third state championship and preparing for Hofstra.
"It is definitely not hard for me to focus this year," said Galati. "I actually feel more focused because I know that college will be another level and I am using every game now as a practice for next year."
The first semester is still months away, but this year is particularly special. There are eight seniors on the team and Galati knows it will be tough to say goodbye.
"It seems like I blinked and all of a sudden I'm a senior," she said. "Every year was great, but this one is a tear-jerker," she said. "I have been playing with a few of the girls way before high school so it will definitely be hard. We have all grown together and get along so well as a team."
A state championship would be the perfect way to end an impressive career for Galati and the seniors at St. John the Baptist. That last game will definitely be a tough one since the seniors will say goodbye to high school and to each other.
"I know I'm going to cry!"
Garland Cooper covers high school softball for ESPN RISE.