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Eager to go where her life’s path leads

South Boston News
Odicci Alexander / April 29, 2020

After a great opening to her 2020 senior campaign, Odicci Alexander saw the softball season at James Madison University come to an abrupt end with the team holding a 13-6 record before the COVID-19 pandemic came along.

A two-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and former CAA Rookie of the Year, Alexander tied her career high in strikeouts with 12 against Texas Tech and was named CAA Pitcher of the week after winning two games in the early part of the season. Alexander pitched 15 innings and racked up 22 strikeouts, with a season-high 8 innings and 10 strikeouts in a win against No. 19 Missouri. She achieved several other accolades before the shortened season ended, among them being selected to the CAA Commissioner Academic Honor Roll.

Alexander, who is just as humble away from the circle as she is fierce on it, said she and her teammates were getting ready to leave for Florida for a tournament when the initial two-week delay of games was announced.

“We were in Harrisonburg at the time and I think we were ready to travel to Florida for a tournament,” Alexander said. “We actually made it to Jacksonville and then it got real serious. They were like, get back on the bus, we’re going back home.”

Alexander expressed that the initial news of a two-week delay in the season caught everyone off guard. Her first reaction was somewhat different than others and she attributes that to her personality.

“I don’t know, like I’m very different from others,” Alexander said. “I didn’t freak out; I was like you know what; better days are coming. God has a plan.

Though Alexander stayed optimistic and focused on what she could control, the cancellation of the season did cause concern at first.

“Not really the same way — I mean, I felt, I was a little worried,” Alexander continued. “You know my teammates called me and all that stuff, like ‘what do you think Odicci.’

“I’m like you know what, it is what it is. That has like always been my motto. It’s nothing that we can control.

“It’s not in our hands, it’s in God’s hands. At that point that’s what it was. Nothing I can do about it.”

Those concerns would be highlighted as the NCAA determined whether Division 1 senior student-athletes missing their final season of sports due to the coronavirus would be allowed to return to college for another season of eligibility.

The NCAA had already cleared the way for D-2 and D-3 colleges and universities to have seniors play for another season. But D-1 posed a problem, especially with its scholarship athletes. The Palmer Springs native says now that D-1 athletes can return for an additional season — and she will be back.

“See, Odicci’s plan was to graduate, but they giving us another year. I’m on the way back,” Alexander said with a laugh. “One more year.”

Alexander explained that while most athletes come back as graduate students, she will be returning as a senior due to her projected graduation date before the pandemic.

“Most do come back as a graduate student, but I was scheduled to graduate in August,” Alexander explained. “Another year — I gotta little more time to do whatever.”

Though happy to be able to return, Alexander said it’s more than just about being a senior and having the opportunity to go back. She wants to provide senior leadership for her teammates.

“For me and the seniors, we had a big role,” Alexander, speaking of responsibilities to younger teammates. “Being a senior, I think it’s a very big role and you have to step up and lead in ways you’ve probably never led in before and it’s things like that. Just taking the team under your belt, and stuff like that.”

Alexander said though she is thankful for all the honors she’s received while at JMU — and there are many — she doesn’t fixate herself on achieving awards and honors.

“I mean, I don’t play for that stuff like if any of it happens it happens like grades … You know,” Alexander said. “I think as a college athlete you have to humble yourself because like this pandemic, like anything can be taken away from you just like that.

“You know some teams they don’t get to come back and play like us seniors. So you know just looking at it I’m like it’s a blessing. Thank God.”

The Park View alumnus said it was the people in her early life that made a difference in her later years. Alexander, a pitcher and infielder for the Lady Dukes, said she never even thought she could play in a Division-1 university — she didn’t think she had the talent.

“I was never really honestly a college fan and that’s funny because I never thought, you know in my mind, I’m like ‘I’m not that good,’ but I think other people saw like you can make it if you want,” Alexander reflected. “I never thought I was D-1 material but I think the motivation and encouragement from other people set me to go that far. I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of moments, it’s been a lot of moments.

“Definitely Coach B, Beth Callahan (PV volleyball coach), she’s like a mom to me,” Alexander continued. “She still comes to games. Paige Nelson (assistant volleyball coach), just as good as Coach B. I can say the same about her because that’s like my other mom.

“Big shoutout to my softball coaches, Dean Crutchfield, John Mann, especially. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

Alexander said she was grateful to her grandparents for how she was raised. She noted sports were their answer to keep a young girl occupied.

“I think my grandparents just wanted me to stay out of trouble so, I started from there,” she says of her lifelong participation in sports. “I got into every sport — volleyball, basketball and then softball and I guess I just fell in love with softball.”

Alexander, who is majoring in sports and recreation management, staid she is thankful for her years growing up in Mecklenburg. She is proud to be from Palmer Springs, not Boydton, and feels like she made the correct choice for her education and softball career by attending JMU.

“I think it definitely helped,” said Alexander, speaking of growing up in the county. “People up here [JMU], like everyone is from a different background. They don’t come from the country, like where I’m from.

“People up here are from big Chicago. There was a lot that I needed to adjust to, different personalities and different people.

“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” Alexander said of JMU. “[The] JMU coaching staff and teammates they’re great. I think I made the right decision — not too close to home, not too far from home, you know.

And as for that point about Palmer Springs, Alexander said it’s all due to where the post office is located.

“Okay, so that’s our address, I just had an argument about this because that’s where the post office is,” Alexander said. Palmer Springs, I’m really not from Boydton, but whatever.”

Alexander says when she does graduate, she knows whatever is for her will become available. It’s her faith that makes her believe this.

If I had the opportunity to go pro, I would,” Alexander ended. “For me, like wherever God takes me, I’m happy. Speaking like ah, I’m gonna go pro, you don’t know that. Wherever the Lord takes me.”

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