Longhorn Cat Osterman Came Out of Retirement for the 2020 Olympics. Then the Pandemic Hit.

In 2015, UT softball alumna Cat Osterman, BA ’07, Life Member, retired from professional play to focus primarily on her assistant coaching job at Texas State. The standout pitcher had an impressive run in college and on the world stage, including an Olympic gold medal in 2004 and a silver in 2008. When softball was voted back in for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (the sport was dropped for 2012 and 2016), she wasn’t thinking of returning to the game. But, realizing she had more in the tank, she started training, announced the end of her retirement in 2018, and was named to the 2020 team the next year. When the news broke this March that the Olympics would be postponed until 2021 due to the spread of COVID-19, Osterman felt her world turn upside down. She spoke with the Alcalde about how the pandemic has affected her, her Team USA teammates and Texas State players, and her family.

What is your routine like these days?

I still am usually up by 7 or 7:30 a.m. I do a lot of reading in the morning and then I get on my Peloton [exercise bike]. And then I eat breakfast after that. Usually there’s another workout in the day.

I don’t have work to be doing, really. For me, the in-between times of working out is kind of left up in air.

In the first week [of social distancing] I was signing up for every free webinar I could find, and then I realized if they’re free they’re pretty basic [laughs]. It’s just trying to figure out how to fill the downtime.

When did you start preparing for the 2020 summer Olympics?

I started training in October 2017. I had tryouts for the National Team in January 2019 to play last summer. And then the Olympic team was chosen in October of that year. Pretty much as soon as I was named to the 2020 team, I came right back home and just hit the ground running as far as continuing to train.

Do you remember the moment you heard the Olympics were canceled?

Yeah. The day the NBA halted their season [March 11] was pretty much the same time we got home early from tour. It was within 24 hours of being home that I looked at my husband and said, “OK, this is getting postponed. What are we going to do?” [It was] basically making sure that he’s still in it for me to go for another year. I think there was a small part of me that was hoping [the delay] would be shorter, it would just be maybe six months, even eight months. But it’s probably easier to just move it 12 months and say, “OK, next year at this time we’re going to do this instead.” I had to figure out, how am I going to continue to make this work? Not with my job, but physically. It was hard enough to get back in shape, and now everyone’s like, “Why are you working so hard?” Because if I stop, it’s that much harder to get started again.

What does the delay of the Olympics mean for your life moving forward?

It puts a lot of things back a little bit. My husband and I talked about possibly having a kid after July and now we’re like, “OK, that’s another 12 months.” Financially, it’s another situation where I took a leave of absence. I went to part-time hours at Texas State [Osterman has since stepped away from coaching], and we were able to make that work, but are we going to be able to make that work for another 12 months? There’s just a lot of things that we have to look at. It’s not even like I know what USA Softball’s plan is yet, because we can’t have a plan until we know when we can actually leave our houses again. I am just trying to take it one day at a time.

How have you stayed connected with your teammates and players?

I think I should have invested in Zoom stock a long time ago. Zoom meetings are kind of the way everyone’s staying connected and rallying together. The national team specifically, we had a Zoom call within 24 hours of the news. I have some younger teammates for whom this has been a dream they weren’t sure they were going to get for a while. But I think we all want the dream bad enough that we figure out how to make it work.

How about with the Texas state team?

I think the hardest part was hearing and seeing the Texas State girls upset because that’s a little bit of a different situation. You only get four years to play in college, maybe five if you get a redshirt year. You work so hard and when you’re a senior, every first practice is the last first practice, the last first game, the last first conference series. Then, you get to the last conference series and you are waiting for the culmination, and it gets halted right in the middle. They were playing really well. It looks like if we played conference well, the postseason could have been in sight. To be told, “Hey, pack up and pack up for good,” that was hard. They do have real life ahead of them. You want to be able to give the seniors the send-off that everybody gets, but unfortunately, for whatever reason, the virus didn’t want to allow that to happen this year.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Photography by Jade Hewitt, courtesy of USA Softball


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment