It’s hard to bounce back from an athletic injury but for SF State senior and softball captain Gabby Reta, it was only a minor setback that motivated her to rise and lead a team.

Originally from Tustin, California, Reta committed to playing for SF State in her junior year of high school and has been a Gator since 2012.

“There were other universities that were recruiting me for softball such as Chapman University and east coast universities,” Reta said. “But SFSU was always my top choice.”

Reta’s softball career began at the early age of four and has continued for nearly 18 years. Her knowledge and drive for the game comes from her father, who coached her for over 10 years.

“My dad has always pushed me to become a better player,” Reta said. “He’s my biggest critic but also my biggest fan and taught me to never be satisfied with where I am and to always strive for more.”

As the oldest woman on the team, Reta brings years of experience as a third baseman and personal leadership that her teammates can rely on, even after undergoing hip surgeries in 2014.  

She believes that the best way to help the team connect and improve is by creating a dynamic between the players and someone the other girls can rely on.

“I think my teammates know that they can rely on me and that I would do just about anything for them and that I would always be there if they needed me,” Reta said. “I always try to put the team first and I hope that the team sees that and does the same.”

#11 Gabby Reta, a senior at San Francisco State University from Tustin, Calif., poses for a portrait on the softball field at San Francisco State University on Monday, January 30, 2017 (Sarahbeth Maney/ Xpress).

Senior right fielder Alexis Konstantino has been teammates with Reta for four years and said she is one of the hardest working girls on the team.

“Her work ethic is very inspiring to the rest of our team and for me especially because it helps me strive to become a better player,” Konstantino said.

In addition to her athleticism, Reta is also praised for being a standout student-athlete as a biology major with an emphasis in marine biology.

“Gabby is the epitome of a ‘student-athlete’ because she excels (in) the classroom and on the field and it’s a great quality that every athlete should aspire to have,” Konstantino said.

Lisa Allen, head coach, also gives Reta high praises for being able to juggle her busy school schedule while balancing the demands of being on the team.

“I really admire Gabby for being in such a tough major and doing well in that major while being a student athlete,” Allen said. Her coach appreciates Reta for that fact she finds new things to love about both her major and the game every day.

Reta holds many memories from her time as a Gator, one of them being the series against California State University, San Marcos.

“It was our second day of games and we had already won the first two games so we were trying to get the sweep,” Reta said. “A lot of my family came to watch me play and I was hitting really well that series. Both games went into extra innings and [we] ended up winning both of them, those victories were really sweet because I felt like the team was working on all cylinders.”

However, her softball career hasn’t always been a walk in the park. In 2014, Reta went through two hip surgeries to repair her torn labrums on both sides in less than a year.

“It was heartbreaking not to be working alongside my team and to not be playing the sport that I love,” Reta said. “As an athlete, being active is my world. It was devastating to not be able to do anything for an entire year, not to mention the physical pain I was in.”

Rehabilitation was a tough five-month process for each side, but Reta believes she was able to compete better and feels she is more fit than she was before her injuries.

“I cannot imagine the strength, patience and the determination it takes to complete two painful surgeries and then the demanding rehabilitation and recovery it takes to be back on the field as soon as one can,” said Delanie Chrisman, a junior and left fielder.

#11 Gabby Reta, a senior at San Francisco State University from Tustin, Calif., practices with her teammates on the softball field at San Francisco State University on Monday, January 30, 2017. (Sarahbeth Maney/ Xpress)

Since her recovery, Reta has continued to show the dedication and passion she has for the game and has been working nonstop to ensure her team is successful.

“I believe (Gabby) has been a very positive role model for this team, she has shown them that you can come back from a couple of tough surgeries and while it is difficult with rehab, it is worth it to get back to the game you love,” Allen said. “She is our only fifth year senior so she knows this conference like the back of her hand.”

Allen added that even though Reta wasn’t able to graduate with the seniors from last season, the motivation from the injury in addition to being the oldest woman on the team has made her step up as a leader and role model for the Gators.

Reta said she believes her team has the capability to take on this season with full force.

“I think this team is completely capable of going to post-season and I expect we will be competitive with every single team in our conference,” Reta said. “I’m really excited to see how we do and going to post season would be an incredible last season.”