Don’t call it a comeback, she’s been here for years. Danielle Lawrie has been blanking batters as one of the premier softball pitchers in the world since debuting with the Canadian National Team in 2005.
By the time she retired ten years later, she had won a College World Series with the Washington Huskies (2009) and re-wrote their record book. Internationally, Lawrie represented Canada at the WBSC World Championship three times (2006, 2010, 2012), winning bronze in 2010, and was a stand-out at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where the national team finished just short of the podium in fourth place.
In August of 2016, when the International Olympic Committee announced that softball would return as an Olympic sport after a 12 year hiatus, Lawrie decided to take one more shot at the podium.
Preparing for Tokyo 2020 has presented new challenges. Lawire, 32, is now a mother of two daughters aged 5 and 3. So far, the balancing act is working. At the 2019 Pan Am Games, Lawrie led Canada to silver and in September they qualified for Olympics next summer.
Lawrie spoke with Bridgit about how leadership and experience are propelling her through these demanding times toward the ultimate goal of earning a medal in Japan.
Bridgit: In sport and business, you have to maximize opportunity. I imagine you never thought you would get a chance to be an Olympian again after 2008, what lessons are you taking from your last experience to make the most of this one?
Danielle Lawrie: To be honest, if Olympic softball wasn’t back, there is no way I’d be doing this. When Olympic softball came back in, I was stewing on it for a long time.
The beauty of coming back is that you can create a different story. 12 years of life experience is invaluable. Softball used to run my life, every win and loss would dictate my mood and take me from a high to a serious low. Once I got married and had my two little girls, it gave me such a different perspective.
I’ve learned how to compartmentalize, I have to maximize my days where when I’m training, I’m focused on that, and when I am with my family, my focus is there. It’s really just about learning the best way to try to be good at everything, which is very difficult. It’s been an interesting road the last two-and-a-half years, training for this.
Bridgit: How has motherhood helped you grow as a leader with Softball Canada?
DL: It’s made the game so much more fun. Not only am I doing this for myself, I am doing this for two little girls that I want to make so proud. I am an example for them. In 10 or 12 years, this is something that is going to be so cool for them to look back on. They can say, “My mom did this, when we were so little, she’s Superwoman and I can do absolutely anything I want to do.” I like to show that women can do whatever they want to do, especially the moms.
Bridgit: How did time away from the game during retirement affect the way you viewed softball?
DL: I’d always stayed in and around the game as a broadcaster for ESPN. You are seeing the game and players evolve but in the back of your mind as a competitor, I always thought I could still compete if I trained and did what I needed to do.
A lot of people asked what it was like to go back after having two kids. Well, I’ve always stayed in the loop, I am never going to let myself go, I’m always going to push myself to a level where I am getting better. That part of it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Bridgit: Why is their value in sharing your experience with others?
DL: For females trying to run households, you always try to put your children first and put yourself on the backburner, sometimes you are not happy, and if you aren’t happy, the house isn’t happy.
For me, it’s all about what fills your bucket, you need to do that personally and then everything else will fall into place. I didn’t have kids to give up everything, my kids come along for the ride, they live a great life, we have a great family. In the end of the day, me and my husband are going to both do what we need to do, and the kids are going to be OK.
I want to inspire other women to know that just because they have kids, it doesn’t always mean you have to close the door. It’s about finding what makes you happy and perusing that, whether that’s business, working out or whatever you want to do. It’s really about trying to be good every day.
Bridgit: Younger brother Brett is well known in Canada for his time playing with the Toronto Blue Jays, how did you mentor him early in his career?
DL: If I tried to help him with anything it was the minor league grind. I didn’t have firsthand experience with that life, but I had an idea about taking things day-to-day. Living in Huntsville, Alabama and having no one, not being able to have my parents there all the time, I couldn’t see him all the time, he had to fight every single day to be consistent enough to move to the next level. It’s easy at that level to give up. It’s so hard to get to the MLB.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.
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