HARKER HEIGHTS — Looking like a catcher signaling in a breaking ball on a 3-2 count, Ashley Olson bashfully peaked behind the paper that meant four more years playing the game that she loves so much.
Shy away from the field, the Harker Heights senior catcher/infielder had enough pride and confidence in herself to pursue her dream of playing college softball.
Olson secured her future by signing a letter of intent to play at the NAIA’s Ottawa University in Kansas during a ceremony Wednesday inside the Harker Heights gym.
“It’s a dream come true. I’ve worked my hardest over the last few years to get to where I need to be, and thanks to everyone that has helped me, I’m where I am now,” Olson said.
Despite just a year of varsity action last season with the Lady Knights, Olson did enough in summer ball and showed her dedication by taking the initiative and promoting herself to colleges around the country during the offseason.
“You can’t rely on your parents or your coaches, you have to go out there and make a name for yourself and get yourself noticed, and that’s just what I did,” Olson said.
After making a highlight reel of herself, Olson created a recruiting profile on NCSA Athletic Recruiting website and dispensed both to various colleges around the country, eventually hearing back from Ottawa.
“That tells you that she loves the game, she wanted to pursue it and that’s her dedication,” Heights softball coach Jaime Stephens said. “You don’t have a lot of that these days. … You don’t have many kids that actually love the sport, so it shows a lot of aspirations for her and being a go-getter.”
Both Olson and Texas native graduate assistant coach Lyndsey Maus then traded emails and phone calls until Olson eventually visited the Ottawa campus and decided it was the right place for her.
“I’ve been in Texas pretty much my whole life and I wanted to get out and discover something new,” Olson said. “I know it’s going to be hard being away from the family, but you have to at some point get away and start your own life.
“It’s a new chapter.”
In her first season on varsity, Olson hit .250 with eight RBIs and 12 runs scored, but really made her mark behind the plate stabilizing a young and inexperienced Lady Knights pitching staff.
“She can be a great leader, the girls respond to her and she always has a smile on her face,” Stephens said.
Even when she’s hiding it behind a mask or a sheet of paper.