UT and International Softball Star Monica Abbott Recognized as a Volunteer 40 Under 40
As a rising star in the world of softball, Monica Abbott (’08) had several higher education options to choose from as a high school senior, but she ultimately chose the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as the place where she would pursue her pitching career and a degree in communication studies. Now, she’s being honored as one of the 2023 Volunteer 40 Under 40 for her exceptional achievements on and off the field.
“When I went to visit Tennessee, I kind of fell in love with the city, the town, and how it was so loving for sports, but I really liked how much they loved women’s sports. At the time, the Lady Vol name had been established with women’s basketball, but I like how it transcended through the entire women’s department,” Abbott said.
She found significant success in softball, landing a spot on Team USA in the 2008 Olympics when she was just a sophomore. She also became Tennessee’s first softball All-American in the university’s history and went on to hold many records in National Pro Fastpitch and the Japan Softball League. She returned to the Olympics again to play for the United States of America in 2020.
While playing softball was her first passion, Abbott said that getting a degree in communication studies has helped her translate that passion into other work she loves. She recently announced her official retirement from playing the sport and stepping onto the other side of the white lines to teach softball and to flourish in other aspects of her career. The skills she learned in her communication studies courses have helped in her transition into the roles of motivational speaker and softball educator, and she also penned a book, Rise and Shine: The Monica Abbott Story, that was recently released.
Before she came to CCI, Abbott described herself as shy and quiet, but the more she learned about the various facets of communication, the more comfortable she became with speaking and teaching.
“I’ve been able to take that and mesh it with my love for the sport of softball and my Olympic career and turn myself into a motivational speaker and softball educator that can communicate. It’s easy to play a sport, but it’s hard to communicate how to play a sport, what to do, to teach it, and I’ve been able to do that pretty well. I’m also hoping in the next year to dabble in TV,” she said.
Whether it was knowing how to create a personal brand to promote herself, or understanding the audience she’s speaking to, Abbott said she’s grateful to have a good grasp on both interpersonal and organizational communication. Public speaking is no longer a challenge for her, and she’s even hoping to do some NCAA softball announcing.
In her world travels for her career, it is not unusual for her to run into Tennessee orange while, and it always brings all the memories back of a pivotal time in her life as a college student and athlete. Of course, being a Volunteer holds a lot of meaning for someone who has actually worn the uniform, and Abbott says she carries the Volunteer spirit with her everywhere she goes and that she always feels the need to give back like so many people gave to her.
“I actually created my own scholarship for female multi-sport high school athletes. We started it in 2013 and basically it’s just a scholarship that high school athletes can apply for who have shown great leadership and development skills, whether or not they play sports in college,” she said. “It’s more about how athletics can impact these young girls to hopefully give back and become the next generation of leaders in whatever area that is, whether that’s sports medicine or education, the next generation that’s going to impact the youth.”