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A Salinas native and former pro softball player gives back to multi-sport athletes.

monica abbott

Former professional softball player Monica Abbott in her Team USA uniform. Abbott retired from the game in February 2023, after a career spanning over 15 years. Photo courtesy of Marci Bracco.

Kyarra Harris here, thinking about college and how expensive it is to attend. It’s a hefty bundle of expenses even with a scholarship or grants from your school. Thousands of students have school partially paid for through scholarships, then foot the rest of bill through loans. But there are always those extra expenses of books, a meal plan, and that $60 clicker your professor insists on for one semester of biology. 

When you’re a student-athlete, who isn’t getting one of those glamorous full-ride scholarships, those expenses add up on top of your extra responsibilities. 

Former professional softball player and Salinas native Monica Abbott wants to make a difference in young women’s college careers by giving back to her community. Through her Monica Abbott Scholarship Fund administered by the Community Foundation for Monterey County, a total $18,000 has been distributed in the form of 18 awards since 2013.

“Not every scholarship is 100 percent right,” Abbott says “But I want to give back to people for them to continue with their education.” 

Two scholarships of $1,000 are given to two young women each year who participate in multiple sports. The candidate doesn’t have to play softball—a handful have been basketball players, volleyball players and track runners. The scholarship is currently accepting applications for 2023—the deadline to apply is Wednesday, March 15.

Abbott says she saw firsthand how paying for college weighed on other student-athletes and peers. She says being around a solid group of women and teachers really shaped how she went about her college career and taught her lessons that stay with her today. 

Recently retired, Abbott was a professional softball player for the National Pro Fastpitch league and played for Team USA in the World Cup of Softball and the Olympics. She’s a decorated player, becoming the first in the NCAA Division I to record 500 strikeouts in her four-year college career, and she holds career records in wins, strikeouts, no-hitters, and shutouts for the National Pro Fastpitch.

“Growing up as a female athlete, playing multiple sports, you learn not only so much about yourself, but so many transferable skills,” Abbott says. In the future, she hopes to take on more fundraisers for her scholarship and continue growing it to help more athletes. “Hopefully this inspires and empowers young women to get into sports, or just be game-changers in their own communities,” Abbott says. 

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