Former Wellington High School softball star Gabby Mack had an eye-opening experience in the last 12 months as a freshman at the University of Tampa.
Like all college students, Mack had to make the academic transition from being a senior in high school to a freshman in college. Athletically, she had to make the transition from being the veteran star of her high school fast-pitch softball team to being a young freshman surrounded by older, talented, more experienced teammates. She also had to get used to living in a dormitory and not having access to a car.
Fortunately for Mack, she successfully made the transition in all departments.
Academically for Mack, who is pursuing a degree in allied health, her grade point average was a strong 3.6. “My toughest class was chemistry, where I had a B,” Mack said.
For Mack, the biggest hurdle to overcome was getting used to life as an NCAA Division II college athlete. It can be very demanding at times.
“Being a college student and playing a sport is pretty much a full-time job,” said Mack, who played first base for Tampa’s softball team.
As a high school student at WHS under head coach Mark Boretti, Mack would play every inning of every game because she was one of the best players on the team. On many occasions, she was the best player on the diamond after rating all the players from both high school teams. At the University of Tampa, Mack was one of many good players.
But she understood that when she enrolled at Tampa and thoroughly enjoyed the overall competitive experience. “I had awesome and hilarious teammates,” Mack said. “It was a good year for me. It was the best pitching that I had ever faced. And all the hitters are good.”
This past season, Tampa posted an impressive overall record of 44-5. For much of the season, Tampa was ranked No. 1 in the country. As expected, Tampa won its first-round regional title in the post-season. The Spartans then advanced to play fellow Sunshine State Conference rival Nova Southeastern in the all-important super regional. The regional and super-regional games were both hosted by Tampa. Unfortunately, Tampa lost the super-regional against Nova Southeastern and was denied a trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s World Series, which was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in late May.
Of the 49 games played this past season, Mack played in just nine of them. In those nine games, Mack had 15 at bats, scored four runs, drove in two runs, drew two walks and struck out twice. One of her hits was a triple.
During the season, while Mack worked hard in practice, studied diligently in the classroom and waited patiently in the dugout, she learned more about fast-pitch softball and how to appreciate and support her teammates during practices and during games, especially if she was not playing.
As Mack makes the transition to next year, she decided to switch schools. She withdrew from the University of Tampa and has enrolled at Florida Atlantic University so she can be closer to her Wellington home — and where she hopes to earn more playing time in softball. To make the transition to FAU, Mack entered the NCAA’s transfer portal for athletes so she could legally look for a new academic and athletic opportunity.
Tampa head softball coach Leslie Kanter understood Mack’s situation and pledged her support for the former Wolverine.
Now, Mack is happy about being an FAU Owl, but there were other schools interested in her talents.
“I have definitely chosen to go to FAU, but there have been many other schools reaching out in the transfer portal,” Mack said.
This summer, Mack is not playing softball, but she is staying physically active, and she’s gainfully employed, too.
“I’m going to the gym at Crunch Fitness,” Mack said. “I’m also working as a golf cart attendant at the Wycliffe Golf & Country Club.”
At Wycliffe, she is storing the members’ golf clubs in the bag room, attaching those golf bags to golf carts when necessary, cleaning golf clubs, cleaning carts, picking up range balls and washing the golf cart towels.
As the calendar inches toward the beginning of another school year, Mack is very excited about her upcoming sophomore year at FAU — both in the classroom and on the softball diamond. It will be another eye-opening experience for this former WHS softball star.