SOFTBALL 2004: And Then There Were Four

Monica Montijo returns to join class of 2004 and complete her unpredictable career

Ten little softball players took to the field with glee.

Seven left the team for good and then there were three.

Make that four, with Monica Montijo ’03-’04, but after leaving the team twice before, her return this year was anything but certain.

The Class of 2004 began as a swell of 10, but gradually, injuries, pre-med aspirations, theses and burn-out took their tolls, thinning the senior ranks. Rachel Goldberg and co-captains Kara Brotemarkle and Sara Williamson were all that remained of the players of their graduating year until Montijo—who had been a catcher until starting in the outfield this season—rejoined the team.

After losing so many teammates, the seniors questioned the risk of letting the 23-year-old back onto the team when she already had two strikes against her.


“They’re concerned because Monica has such a big presence,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “She’s very upbeat and very energetic—so to take that energy away, it’s a hard adjustment for the team. They didn’t know if it was in the best interest of the team to give her that chance.”

Monica had, however, taken her time off with the team in mind. After a family tragedy and injury stymied her focus, Monica felt that a respite was the appropriate course.

“The reason I didn’t play for two years is that I just have so much respect for [Allard] that if I wasn’t going to be there 110 percent, I wasn’t going to do it,” Montijo said. “I just felt like that wasn’t right.”

Although this is only her third spring playing softball for the Crimson, Montijo has played in five fall sessions—or tried to.

In November of 2001, what would have been Montijo’s junior year, Monica had surgery to treat shoulder subluxation. Although she had practiced with the team through the fall, Montijo decided to take the semester off from Harvard entirely, and then withdrew for the rest of the year.

The following fall, the returned junior found herself unable to throw the ball.

“I just wasn’t ready,” Montijo said. “So I just did what I thought was the best thing for the team.”

Montijo is no exception to the rule— Goldberg actually also left the team for a few days due to knee injury, but reversed her decision days later. Letting players back onto the team is not new, so when Monica wanted to join the team again this year, Allard allowed her back.

“If you leave the team in good standing—you don’t break any team rules, you don’t alienate anyone—you can come back to the team,” Allard said. “Monica hadn’t done anything wrong.” But the captains expressed concern about Montijo quitting. “The one thing she hadn’t done to them was establish that she was credible,” Allard added. “Sara and Kara didn’t want to be in the situation in two and a half months of her quitting.”

After having participated in two major road trips and a season of fall workouts, Monica is well on her way to validating Allard’s decision to her teammates.


Recommended Articles