Olympian Valerie Arioto on Growing Up in Softball
From being a 2x gold and 2x silver WBSC World Champion, 3x gold medalist in the Pan American Games, 4x gold medalist in the World Cup of Softball, and Silver Medalist at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, former Team USA 1st Base Valerie Arioto is no stranger to success in the sport. But alongside her accolades are the people who encouraged her and helped to prepare her for her athletic career and beyond. We sat down with Valerie to talk about how she got her start in the sport and the village that supported her along the way.
When did you get your start in softball? Did you consider playing any other sports?
I started softball when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was always an active kid and also played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and I water skied. I am a big advocate for playing other sports when growing up. It decreases burnout, helps with athleticism, and it’s fun!
Who is someone you’ve looked up to in the sport growing up?
Although there are so many greats in the sport that paved the way, I looked up to all the USA Teams before me. As a unit they showed me what it means to be a good teammate and passed down the traditions that I later had the opportunity to continue!
Looking back on your career, who are three people who have impacted you the most as an athlete?
My parents showed me unconditional love no matter how I played and supported me my entire career (and life). My high school coach who taught me what it meant to have a short memory in a difficult and humbling sport. And all of my teammates who I learned something different from.
Valerie currently resides in California and was inducted into the UC Berkeley Sports Hall of Fame in 2022. She continues to train softball athletes as well as promote women in sports and has been a part of the Field Sports Training team since the beginning. You can follow along with her @valeriearioto.