FGCU softball parents cherish NCAA Tournament experience

Author: Zach Oliveri
Published: Updated:

For the Florida Gulf Coast softball players, the road to the Gainesville regional didn’t begin in August. It started the first time they swung a bat or threw a ball. Their parents saw their daughter’s love for the sport grow, which made Friday’s game so special.

In the midst of the Florida faithful, you’ll find the FGCU section, taking over the first few rows behind the Eagles’ dugout. Prime seats for these parents to watch their kid’s dream come true.

“I’m not a public crier and its just going to be hard to hold it back this weekend,” Jill Peterson, Neely’s mom, said.

“She’s been dreaming of this since she was eight years old cause we watched the games on TV,” Laura Black, Olivia’s mom, recalled.

To get to this point, the players grew in the sport with their parents there every step of the way.

“Angelina Bonilla growing up playing in softball is like a little mouse,” Angelina’s mom Yvelisse said. “She has a very little voice and when you hear it’s the sweetest thing in the world. So that’s one of the things growing up she had to face with all the coaches in her life you have to be stronger you have to be louder you have to be mean. And all of that and we worked through it with her. And you know what, she’s still the same.”

With the superstitions these parents have during games, it’s clear they want what’s best for their kid and the team.

“We’ve gotten into this thing where Oli’s mom Laura was sitting on my lap to get Neely hits,” Jill said.

“I like to dance during the games and they’re all saying you haven’t danced,” Yvelisse explained. “And I’ll do a figure eight between the dads.”

From the parents in the stands, to the kids on the field, this group is more than just a team.

“They wear bracelets that I gave them that say in Moorse code sisters forever,” Jill said. “And they really be sisters forever because this whole season this whole experience will be something they tell their grandkids.”

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