From the day she raised her hand to be the catcher on her T-ball team at 5 years old, Gabby Rodriguez has relished her role behind the plate. Hailing from a family of baseball players, G-Rod, as she is called, has always been a leader on the field — a take-charge player who loves the constant physical and mental demands of the game.
When at age 12 she didn’t make it on her local travel softball team in suburban Buffalo, New York, Gabby refused to quit. Instead, she played her way onto a team located 45 minutes away and started working with a former Division I baseball player as a private coach. She dedicated herself to becoming such a complete catcher and power hitter that no team would pass on her again.
But the summer after her freshman year in high school, Gabby began experiencing increasing pain in her back — pain that would get so bad that she could barely move. An X-ray revealed a dramatic 69-degree curve in her spine. Gabby was told that she would need reconstructive surgery, which wouldn’t only crush her dream of playing Division I college softball, it would end her catching career altogether.
“I could barely look my daughter in the eyes,” says her mother, Christina, of that wrenching consultation. “She left there feeling defeated and terrified.”