Olivia Madkins (Instagram Photo)

Typically it is not common to see Black girls playing softball, but Olivia Madkins is making a difference at Columbia. She is breaking stereotypes and showing that anyone can excel in the sport, regardless of race. By being a talented player and a role model, Olivia is inspiring other Black girls to join the game and pursue their passions fearlessly. Her success is changing the narrative and paving the way for more diversity in the sport.

Madkins is the first-ever Black player for the Colombia University women’s softball program. The Los Angeles native comes from an athletic background and has been around sports since birth. She is the youngest of three children and grew up playing multiple sports including basketball, track, and tennis.  Madkins is the daughter of former UCLA guard and NBA shooting guard Gerald Madkins who played with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat throughout his professional career.

Madkins had her first experience at bat at eight years old when she started playing t-ball. She played on a team full of boys, but she realized that she could compete at a high level. Madkins had a dream to play at the collegiate level and her talent would not go unnoticed.  In the summer of 2021 Madkins took a trip to New York to compete at a summer prospect camp held at Colombia. The trip was successful and productive; it was then she knew that Columbia was the perfect fit to continue her academic and athletic career.

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During her junior year, the Sierra Canyon Product scheduled her official visit. Within the following weeks, she received her official offer and committed to Columbia. Not only was Madkins committing to such a rigorous academic institution a huge accomplishment, but she also achieved a pivotal milestone in the history of the program. `

“On the day that I got my official offer, Coach T [Jennifer Teagues] actually let me know that I would be the first [Black player], and of course, my first reaction was like. ‘OK, you mean like the first since you’ve been coaching here?’” Madkins said. “But she was like “no, no, the first.” I was shocked, but my heart was set on the school regardless, and I just knew that that would make my opportunity here that much more special.” (Andscape.com)

On March 17,  Madkins earned her first opportunity to start as a true freshman and did not disappoint, proving to everyone why she deserves to be at Colombia. She had a thrilling 13-pitch plate appearance followed by an acrobatic diving snag in the left outfield against top-ranked Kentucky.

“I’ve always thought of softball as a means for me to do bigger things with my life. I just saw an opportunity to do good for a lot of people and really empower my community,” Madkins said. (Andscape.com)

Madkins continues to be a leader both on and off the field setting the standard for Black Women in softball and beyond. At Columbia, she is majoring in Sociology. She embraces her role with confidence.

“I was really used to being the only Black player, so in a way it wasn’t something that I consciously think about all the time, just because it’s kind of an obvious thing, so you don’t spend that much mental energy on it,” Madkins said. “Just seeing over the years how the game has grown, has made me feel really confident stepping into this role. I remember watching Odicci Alexander and her incredible run [in the 2021 Women’s College World Series] with James Madison and how she carried that team on her back. Seeing Black girls compete on the biggest stage makes you super excited and want to be a part of that.” (Andscape.com)