Pandolfo Continues the Family Softball Legacy
April 22, 2013
In the Pandolfo family it has become commonplace to be a captain of the Boston College softball team. Senior Maria Pandolfo is the third Pandolfo sister to take on the leadership role for the Eagles.
Pandolfo’s older sisters, Angela (’09) and Danielle (’10) both served as the team captain in their time at the Heights. The younger Pandolfo had the opportunity of playing with Danielle her freshman year and learned about the responsibilities of being a captain. She has also received advice from both sisters about playing the game and being a leader.
“If I’m stuck in a situation with the team where I need to see how to be a good teammate they can tell me from their experiences what they did and what the best approach is or even what really didn’t work,” Pandolfo said.
It is an honor following in her sister’s footsteps for the Reading, Mass. native, as she tries to guide the softball program in the right direction through her leadership. The honor, however, was one that Pandolfo was not sure she would ever get to accept. In her junior year, Pandolfo was struck in the face with a foul ball that cost her the rest of her season. She sustained serious damage to her face and required reconstructive surgery. At one point Pandolfo didn’t know if she would regain vision in her right eye. She questioned herself on whether she could return to the diamond and if she would even want to. That’s when Pandolfo turned to her family.
“My dad is my rock,” Pandolfo said. “He told me there’s no way you can’t come back from it and that I had to go back and lead and maybe be a captain. He gave me the faith that I could do it.”
Over the summer, Pandolfo’s vision returned, which meant she could work towards a comeback. Pandolfo has been honest about dealing with the psychological effects from the incident.
“I’ve yet to really feel the way I did before my injury,” Pandolfo said. “I think I have been working to get to that point but I am still trying to find it. I wear a cage now when I hit and that helps but at times I didn’t think I could go back. If that ball went a few inches either way I would’ve been toast.”
Once Pandolfo returned to the field as a captain this year, she felt a new sense of responsibility. The outfielder has made an effort to be a vocal leader in the team huddles as well as at practice while leading by example on game days.
“I have to hold myself with class and not let the emotions get the best of me,” Pandolfo said. “At times, you strike out and you want to throw your helmet or something like that but you can’t do that as a captain. As a captain, you have be there for the team even if things aren’t going well individually for you.”
As a captain, Pandolfo is more aware of the people around her which she believes makes her a better a better teammate. She is working hard on just being there for her teammates and those around her. Pandolfo believes this is the toughest aspect of being a team captain.
“I want people to look back and say, ‘she really looked out for me, she was really there for me,’” Pandolfo said.
It is also important to Pandolfo that she is a role model off the field for the younger athletes on the team. She embraced the responsibilities of being a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as well as her commitment to community service. Pandolfo hopes her hard work off the field will inspire the younger players to be involved in the Boston College community.
As Pandolfo’s final season heads into the home stretch she hopes to leave a lasting impact on the program. As the only senior on the team she hopes that her legacy can be one that reflects a culture of winning.
“Everyone’s happier when they’re winning more,” Pandolfo said. “If you can make the program have the mindset of higher expectations and more directed at achieving higher goals then it will go in that direction. For a long time people got used to BC being at the bottom of the ACC but I wanted to change that mindset right away.”
It started in preseason with a new attitude and Pandolfo has seen the shift in focus from her teammates. Before, Pandolfo felt not everybody believed they could go into a weekend series with an ACC team and beat anyone but now the confidence is there even if the results don’t show it.
“Even with the direction the season is heading right now, it’s more important I lead the younger girls so they know what the expectations are for next year and the year after that,” Pandolfo said. “It goes beyond me and where my career ends. It’s more about what I can say and do to get the message across that we need to win more.”
The future for the softball program is bright in Pandolfo’s eyes as she believes Head Coach Ashley Obrest is bringing in a great recruiting class. She also knows the younger players she is with now are getting a lot of valuable experience on the field.
The rest of the season, Pandolfo hopes BC can win the bulk of the mid-week games vs. local colleges and universities, while being a tough competitor in the ACC tournament in May.
By Eddie Lockhart