After starting with three straight losses at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Hollister native Suzy Brookshire’s chances to compete for a softball medal seemed far-fetched.
Then Brookshire and her Mexican national women’s softball team won their next two games in a five-part tournament that gave them a shot at a bronze medal, though they ultimately lost to Canada 3-2.
Not only was she cheered on by her family, her performance in Tokyo since July 21 caught the attention of three of her former coaches including two in Hollister. They described Brookshire as team-focused and “humble” while on the field.
Brookshire, who used her grandmother’s last name Gonzales on the back of her jersey, hit .250 with three walks, two runs batted in and scored three runs. She reached base on each of the five games as well as the bronze medal game.
Stacey Vanderlei and Alan Brookshire said they didn’t have the words to express how proud they were of their daughter.
“I was happy I wanted to cry,” Vanderlei said. “Very proud of her. She worked very hard.”
Alan said it was very gratifying seeing all of Suzy’s hard work pay off to the point where she was competing for an olympic medal.
While Suzy’s parents were unable to travel to Tokyo because of the COVID restrictions, they tuned in to every single second of each game. But they weren’t the only ones. Many of her former coaches from softball and soccer also tuned in to cheer her on.
“Just watching her in the Olympics you still see that fire in her eyes that she had in her senior year and she is having fun,” San Benito High School softball coach Andrew Barragan said. He took over the school’s softball program in the 2015-16 school year.
The 23-year old outfielder has been playing with the Mexican National team since 2017, competing in the Women’s Softball World Championship and the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s Softball Americas—the Olympic qualifying tournament.
But what distinguishes Brookshire are not her accolades, though she’s racked up a long list in her career with Sacramento State, San Jose State and Long Beach State universities. It’s her team-first mentality.
“It was never about herself and you can tell that by just watching her in Team Mexico that she is really behind her teammates 100%,” Barragan said. “She’s always been like that.”
Long Beach softball coach Kim Sowder said she was proud of Brookshire’s achievements and performance at the Olympics. She said Brookshire’s “humble” attitude and work ethic on and off the field paved the way for her success.
“She’s just pretty quiet and takes care of business,” Sowder said.
In her year at Long Beach, Sowder said Brookshire became a team leader.
“She’s just a tremendous player, an incredible hitter,” Sowder said. “The bigger the moment, the better Suzy would become, and she’s just so clutch.”
Barragan said watching her compete at the Olympics took him back to the 2016 Central Coast Section Championship game when she hit a solo home run to give the San Benito High Balers a 9-6 lead over Carlmont High School. San Benito eventually won 11-6 to achieve its 10th CCS Championship.
Before Brookshire was competing at the highest level of softball, she reached the highest level of youth soccer in Northern California. Ted Vandenberg, who coached Brookshire for four years, said her mix of intense competitor and compassionate team player has been on display since she was 10 years old.
“She has such a wonderful spirit and personality, an innate athletic ability, and a supportive father and mother to guide her and encourage her to get to this place,” Vandenberg said. “It is a gift of God that I have had the pleasure of coaching Suzy playing the beautiful game.”
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