Dual-Sport Phenom: John Paul II's Emma Rodrigues presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors
Being a dual-sport athlete has become more and more of a common occurrence in young athletes. Most of the time, you will see athletes participate in another sport during their main sport's off-season in order to stay at the top of their game. However, for John Paul II softball's Emma Rodrigues, both of her sports kick off in the Spring and she uses both to shine.
The junior centerfielder can be seen making plays in the outfield for the Lady Cardinals, but you can also find her hitting dingers from the dish. Rodrigues hit her eighth home run of the season in a 4-1 victory over Bishop Lynch last week. So far, Rodrigues has over 15 stolen bases, over 23 RBIs, and a .588 batting average.
Rodrigues likes to treat the softball season as a complete team effort with a team mindset to stay at the top of her game. "When I'm playing on a team, my actions are no longer just mine but the teams. By playing on a team I now hold another level of responsibility and accountability to the other girls." Rodrigues says that her main goal for the softball season is to bring a state championship trophy home to JPII. "We truly have a talented team and have put in the work this season to fight our way to state," Rodrigues said in an interview. "I've seen how hard these 2021 seniors have worked and if I can be a part of bringing them a state championship then I will do everything I can."
When she's on the track, being at the top of her game is a whole different story for Rodrigues. "Since track is a little bit more of an individual competition, my coaches are who really hold me accountable." With the opportunity to be at softball more often than track, remaining at peak performance falls heavily on Rodrigues' impeccable work ethic and a spirit to strive to always work harder. "Since my time is more limited, I need to make every second of it count to assure I continue to grow and get better."
Rodrigues' eyes remain on the prize. Her goal for the track season isn't far off from her goal for the softball season: state; she'd like to compete amongst the best in Texas at the state meet. With the season she has been having, I'd say her goals aren't unrealistic. Just last weekend, Rodrigues met a personal record in the 300m hurdles with 46.2 seconds placing first against at Bishop Lynch. Her PR shaved .71 seconds off of her time from March 21 at Dallas Shelton.
Benefits of both
Using both sports to hold herself accountable in her athletic endeavors, Rodrigues sees the benefits of participating in two spring sports at once. "Not only do I enjoy participating in both sports, but I feel like track really pushes me in softball and vice versa. Without track, I can honestly say I wouldn't be the softball player I am today. Track has helped me tremendously with running form, endurance, ad overall athleticism; all things that have enhanced my softball game. Softball on the other hand has helped me more in the mental aspect of track. Softball forces you to have this sort of mental toughness and understanding of teamwork which is extremely applicable in tougher races and even relays."
The 2020 spring sports season saw cancellations across the state and country, but Rodrigues took it at a blessing and time to grow. Nursing an injured shoulder, Rodrigues used quarantine to recover and begin to build back to the top of her game. "I saw quarantine as a blessing and great opportunity for recovery and building strength. I am fortunate enough to have a gym basically in our garage so staying in shape wasn't an issue," said Rodrigues. "I found a routine and passion for going outside to run and lift almost every day while my parents worked and I was stuck at home." Rodrigues also gives credit to the fact that since select softball continued, she was able to workout with some teammates and continue to develop her skills.
How does she do it all?
One word: COACHES. "I can not express how lucky I have been since freshman year to have coaches that will work with me and my schedule," Rodrigues emphasized. "They've always made sure to make the best decisions when it comes to interferences of games/meets and practices. I also make sure to communicate with them as much as possible about my physical ability in order to properly recover from and avoid injury. If it weren't for them bending over backwards for me, I don't think I would be able to do it."
Her goals remain short-term through her seasons and she doesn't focus on breaking records. "I feel like when I focus too much on breaking a record it causes me to stop like that's 'good enough' or take my foot off the gas. I don't want to think what I do is ever 'good enough'. I want to focus on getting better every day and if I break some records along the way then, hey, that's great."
Currently, Rodrigues is uncommitted, but has her mind open to one or both sports at the collegiate level. She knows that it would be no easy endeavor, but would definitely accept the challenge if given the opportunity. "If I had to choose, I would rather play softball in college, but if I am ever given the opportunity to compete in both at a college level, I believe it would be an incredivle experience."
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