Vicky Galindo Ready to Represent

July 17, 2008

BERKELEY - By Anton Malko

Editor's note: The following feature appears in the summer 2008 issue of the Cal Sports Quarterly.

Golden Bear fans know not to count out Vicky Galindo.

A valuable, three-year letterwinner for California softball from 2003-05 after carrying the Olympic torch as a 12-year-old in Winters, Calif., Galindo has continued her softball career as a professional player, an assistant coach and, now, a three-year member of the U.S. National team on the cusp of her Olympic dream.

But Galindo was served the biggest challenge yet in her quest five months after making the Olympic squad, when she stepped into the batter's box against Arizona in February and broke her left arm during her first at-bat in USA Softball's 'Bound for Beijing' tour.

The high curveball ricocheted off Galindo's ulna, just above her wrist. 'It didn't hit me that hard, but it broke my arm,' she said. 'Not the way I wanted to start my tour.

'Just imagine, the opportunity to reach your dream, something that you've had for so long and wanted for so long, and it's practically taken away from you in an instant. The thought of not being able to achieve that dream is just so devastating to me, just really, really emotional.'

As she bears down to rehabilitate her arm and play her way back into the lineup, Galindo is relying on the same wellspring of excitement and anchored attitude that has always defined her. She is determined to make a positive difference in what will be the final Summer Games to include softball, which joined the Olympiad the same year she carried the torch, 1996.

'I'm just really happy to be a part of this team,' said Galindo. 'Obviously I want to play, but I'll be the bat girl if we can get a gold medal. I'll do whatever I can to help this team win.'

Galindo went to West Valley Junior College for a year when she wasn't recruited hard out of James Logan High School in Union City, Calif. Determined to play Pac-10 softball, she earned her spot at Cal as a walk-on. Known for an unpredictable approach at the plate with footwork that has opponents guessing whether she'll slap a line drive of lay down a bunt, she is simply not intimidated by the challenge of being ready for Beijing.

'My whole life, if I set a goal, I've always been able to reach it,' she said. 'But it always seems like I've taken the roundabout way to get there. It's crazy, but I know I've always had to work hard to get what I want. I'm not scared of getting hit again.'

The toughest opposition for Team USA figures to be Japan, Canada and Australia, in addition to the host country.

'We put aside our differences and get on the world stage to compete against each other in athletics,' said Galindo, who visited China previously for the 2006 World Championships. 'That's what it's about: representing my country through sport.'

Once the Olympics are over, in addition continuing her pro softball career, Galindo has another job waiting as an assistant coach at San Jose State.

'Part of the reason that I've been successful is because of a positive attitude that I bring,' Galindo said. 'Every game that I get out there, I'm excited to be there. And that's the kind of thing I try to pull out of my athletes as well. If you're excited to play, it just makes you better at what you're doing.'