(NEW YORK) — Kelsie Whitmore, 24, considers herself a proud daughter, sister, competitor, athlete and friend. If that wasn’t enough, she just so happens to be the first woman to ever start and pitch for an Atlantic League baseball team, taking the pitcher’s mound for the Staten Island FerryHawks’ 2022 season.
“You know those things in life that you can’t explain and you just know it’s your truth? That’s how playing baseball has always been to me,” Whitmore told ABC News’ Good Morning America.
“I grew up playing all sports, not only baseball. I remember playing catch in the front yard with my younger brother and dad. I played flag football, you name it — I played it,” she continued. “My parents really always encouraged us to be outside and to stay active.”
Whitmore said that growing up, she saw no boundaries between herself and other teammates.
“I just saw whoever was in front of me as a competitor,” she said. “Male or female, ethnicity, color — that didn’t matter.”
“My dad instilled in me the mentality to just suck it up and keep going,” she added. “So that’s exactly what I did.”
Whitmore has been knocking down doors in the male-dominated baseball world since her teenage years: She was the only female player to start for her varsity baseball team at Temecula Valley High School in Southern California.
“You must have short-term goals to be able to reach long-term goals. Many people are so focused on the outcome over the process. I choose the process over the outcome,” she said. “The process is what builds you.”
Though other women have coached and made history in baseball, Whitmore said that much of her journey has left her craving the non-existent camaraderie between her and other female players her age.
“It can be overwhelming at times — so that’s when I stick to the people that know who I really am and want the best for me,” she said.
“No matter how long I have been playing this game, when I step out on that field as the only female, there are always be little nerves — you know all eyes are on you,” Whitmore said. “That’s when I focus on breathing.”
“I can’t control what someone is going to think of me,” she added, “but I can control my heartbeat, how hard I am going to work, how I treat others and the positive self-talk that I feed myself.”
Whitmore urged other women that may have similar dreams as hers to put one foot in front of the other and run with them.
“Big dreams require big sacrifices,” she said.
When asked about what advice she would share with young athletes — or anyone — with big goals, Whitmore shared a glimpse into her winning mentality.
“Before anything that you are going to do in life, learn to find yourself. Look in the mirror and continue to ask yourself difficult questions. Once you have that, you can fearlessly go for anything you want in life, and for me … that’s baseball,” she said.
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