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Lee Set To Represent Great Britain In Two European Championships

Dirk Steffen photos
Dirk Steffen photos

Will Compete For Both Under-19 And Under-22 Teams

Rising sophomore Olivia Lee is about to embark on a very busy stretch of softball. And she'll do it more than 6,000 miles from her Los Angeles home. Lee is part of the British Softball Federation and will play for Great Britain's Under-19 team in the XV European Championships in Staranzano, Italy, from July 16-21. Then she will join the Under-22 team for that age group's European Championships in Trnava, Slovakia, from July 23-28.

Lee, whose father was born in Plymouth, England, is a dual citizen of the United States and Great Britain. She played in the Under-19 World Championships last summer in Clearwater, Florida, and was first selected for the U19 team in 2016. That year she played in the Junior European Championship in Spain where she helped the team win a gold medal, the first medal ever for a Great Britain fastpitch team.

"It was an incredible experience," said Lee, who played in 19 games in her rookie season at Yale this spring. "In fact, I wrote my Yale entrance essay about it."

Ironically, it was on a recruiting visit to Harvard when she first learned of the opportunity to play for Great Britain.

"The Harvard assistant coach told me about it," Lee said. "I had no idea they played softball in the UK. As fate would have it, when I went to look into it, it just happened to be right after the British Softball Federation had posted on their website announcing for player applications."

That led to the tryout process, which featured a very detailed skills video, a plethora of measurable fitness tests plus written interview questions and a face-to-face interview via skype.

And now Lee has had the opportunity to travel the world playing the game she loves.

"It has been so fascinating to play against teams from all over the world," she said. "It's fun to hear all the different languages, but funny enough, a lot of the cheers are still in English. I have connected with many of the players via social media, and it's fun to trade shirts at the end of the competition."

Lee will age out of the Under-19 team following the European Championships but still has hopes of making Great Britain's national team. The ultimate goal is playing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

"The biggest challenge of all of this is that none of the teams receive funding from Great Britain," Lee said. "All players are self-funded and the overall program is funded only by generous individuals. The lack of funding makes it challenging to compete against other countries whose programs are fully funded by their ruling bodies allowing them to train and play together more often."

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity