The USA softball team is looking ahead to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. The team is built up of veterans and newcomers. One of the fresh faces of USA softball is Courtney Gano, a 25 year-old catcher. Courtney made the roster this past winter. She showed up at an open tryout and impressed the coaches enough to earn her a spot on the team.
Even given all this, the team is still excited about having Courtney Gano join the roster. She has had quite a season and the team could really use a catcher like her in their lineup.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Gano’s life revolves around softball. Her mother was none other than Rhonda Wheatley, who pitched for Team USA after achieving All-American status in collegiate ball. Gano’s parents ran a softball training facility where surprise, surprise, Gano spent a lot of time during her childhood.
In 2012, Gano entered her freshman year at Washington, where she started most games at either shortstop or third base. Unfortunately, she was sidelined by and injury and missed out on the 2013 season. She was back the next year, but unlucky to find that the team had replaced her in the infield. However, in a testament to Gano’s versatility, she picked up a catcher’s mitt and fulfilled a need for the team behind the plate.
Courtney turned out to be a fine catcher but as the season progressed, something strange happened.
Gano started feeling a numbness in her toes as she crouched behind home plate. At first, she thought she was just getting use to the new position and having circulation issues. But the Gano started noticing other things changing. Her balance was off and she found it difficult to run the bases. Eventually it got so bad that she couldn’t run at all. Thus begun a series of doctors’ visits to figure out what was going on.
After a frustrating time in which no one could say what was going wrong with Gano, finally a neurologist diagnosed her with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. This is an extremely rare syndrome that involves sensory loss and loss of reflexes. Gano underwent treatment and was eventually able to get back on the field in 2015.
Gano’s miraculous recovery was not the end of her troubles. Back on the field, she suffered several knee injuries that could have ended the career of a less determined player. But not Gano. In 2017 she had a second knee surgery, and went to Italy to play professionally.
Gano enjoyed her time in Italy, traveling and taking a liking to a less compeitivie atmosphere surrounding the sport. But this past year she realized that she still had something she wanted to accomplish: playing for Team USA. So Gano talked her way into a tryout and sure enough, she made the team.
Gano In 2020
Now technically, Gano made the second team for the 2020 Olympics. But she was picked to be on the team for the upcoming Japan Cup and if all goes well and she plays to her potentially, it can only bode well for her chances of being bumped up to the primary Olympic team.
If we’ve learned anything from Courtney Gano, it’s that nothing stands in her way. If anyone can make it to the primary team, it’s her. After her illness and multiple injuries, she’s made it to their professional level. It’d be surprising not to see her take it one step further.