There is a little more than a five percent (5.6) chance of making it to the NCAA level following a high school softball career. The odds of making it to the NCAA level as a volleyball player are even lower (3.9). The chances of competing in two sports at that level are slim to none.
If you were to tell those odds to Big Spring senior Jocelyn Gonzales, she would most likely not blink an eye. After all, she has worked long and hard for years to accomplish the athletic feats that she has been able to conquer throughout her lifetime. That is why her decision to verbally commit to Sul Ross State for both softball and volleyball comes as no surprise to those closest to her and instead reminds everyone of all the hard work that she has put into those two sports.
“To be able to play at the next level is an indescribable feeling,” Gonzales said. “I am so honored and so thankful to be able to pursue both sports.”
Gonzales has been a leader for both Head Volleyball Coach Kaitlyn Braswell and Head Softball Coach Chelsey Jordan in the past and will continue to fill that role this upcoming school year. Both coaches love her ability to always get the best out of her teammates and her unrelenting competitiveness that permeates throughout the team.
The versatile senior student-athlete is excited about her future in college but is not looking past her last year at Big Spring. Gonzales is a perfectionist of sorts and wants to use her senior year to improve every facet of her game in both softball and volleyball. It is that kind of work ethic and determination that has led her to the position she is in and her coaches wish that they could have a team full of Jocelyn's.
“She gives her all no matter what,” Braswell said. “She's dependable and a person that you want out on the court at all times. She works hard and is an all-around player. We can really trust her in any position and she'll do anything that's asked of her. She's pretty much the dream athlete.”
Some star athletes are defined by their size, some are defined by their speed, and some are defined by their ability to understand the game at the highest level.
While Gonzales is a superb athlete, she falls into the latter category because of her aptitude to understand the game on a coach-like level. Both Braswell and Jordan have benefitted from Gonzales being like a second coach that is in on the game action and know that she can do anything that she sets her mind to.
“Her greatest skill is understanding a situation and making everybody be okay with it,” Jordan said. “ If we're ever in a tight spot, she would be the one to take a timeout, go talk to the pitcher, make her laugh, and just relax everyone. She has a high softball IQ and can read a situation and just take control of the team on the field.”
Braswell added, “She's very smart. Her intelligence and ability to read the play is one of her greatest skills.”
Gonzales will have a lot on her plate when she first arrives to college and will need to quickly learn how to adapt to her new hectic schedule that will involve classes and practices year-round for softball and volleyball. However, she is up for the challenge and looking forward to making her mark on both Sul Ross State programs.
The Lady Lobos have improved every year under the leadership of Head Coach Troy Canaba. This past spring on the softball diamond, Sul Ross was off to a great 13-5 start to the season before coronavirus shut down the season early.
After winning only three games in back-to-back years (2016-2017), Canaba has also helped turn around the volleyball program and the Lady Lobos finished just three games under .500 last fall (11-14).
Sul Ross State softball and volleyball are both on the rise and Canaba was determined to add the talented and versatile Gonzales to his roster for 2021 and beyond.
“We've watched her play for the past couple years,” Canaba said. “ I knew that she could hit the ball well and was really athletic. I could see that she could really play ball and I was excited about that and started to think about how she could fit into our program and all of the different things that she could do.”
After speaking with Gonzales and her family, Canaba was totally sold on the Big Spring phenom and worked hard to get her to commit to the Lady Lobos. His long hours of recruiting finally paid off earlier this week when he found out about the two-sport star's future plans.
Now that she has made the tough decision on her future, Gonzales still has plenty of more room to grow and will be working hard over the next 12 months to put herself in the best position to succeed at the collegiate level. With her talent, work ethic, and all of the support that she has behind her, there is nothing that will hold Gonzales back from her inevitable success.
“Being able to represent Big Spring means a lot to me,” Gonzales said. “I want it to show that no matter where you come from, you can do anything you set your mind to. I hope that if anyone could take anything from this, it's that hard work will never fail you.”
Shawn Moran is the sports writer at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 432-263-7331.