Olivia Pino Steps Beyond the Home Base and Elevates the Softball Game into a Career

Hannah Ko

Coming from an athletic family of eight, new softball coach Olivia Pino’s siblings inspired her to begin exploring various sports such as travel ball, basketball, soccer, track and field and softball from a young age. However, her love of softball did not develop into a pursuable career until high school, according to Pino.

After receiving a softball scholarship to junior college in Monterey, where she played as a middle infielder for two and a half years, Pino took an opportunity to transfer to WestCliff University during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently studying to receive her master’s degree in business and a concentration in organizational leadership while coaching at Portola High.

“The girls, they just really have a lot of heart,” Pino said. “The passion that some of these girls have just reminds me again why I even started playing softball. It makes me hopeful, just like it makes coaching easier. When you have girls that are coachable and inspiring, it doesn’t feel like work when we come here.”

When Pino started coaching at Portola High, she applied skills and character which she took up from playing as an athlete and translated into coaching. She always relied on her two most important qualities of being respectful of every teammate or coach and being resilient. It was especially helpful for her to incorporate her mental strength and perseverance as a player to not give up after losses or a bad practice, according to Pino.

“I think respect is a key similarity between coaching and playing because even when you move from being a player to a coach, you still have to respect the game,” Pino said. “And instead of being a player in retrospect — of respecting your teammates and respecting your coaches — as a coach yourself, you are having to show that same respect back to the girls because we will never ask from them anything that the game doesn’t ask them.”

Pino has recently talked to several girls about playing in college and introduced the prospect of possibly even pursuing softball as a career, which many of the players did not know was an option for them, according to senior Erin Moody.

“The experience they both brought to the field — you could see the change it made for everyone,” Moody said. “You can tell that they take the game so seriously, and I think they were really able to implement that for the girls.”

However, Pino said she initially faced minor hardships in finding a coaching strategy that accommodated the diverse personality and skill levels of each player. It was important for her to gain a relationship with every member on a personal level to adjust her coaching style to make every player comfortable and motivated.

“We are able to hear these girls about their situations when it comes to their classroom and their friend groups, kind of like a confidant,” Pino said. “Just someone they can trust and that means maybe giving them some mentorship. And I definitely see a lot of myself and these girls — a lot of the drive that some of them have, just hungry to get better and wanting to be better.”