Houston-born Olympic athlete Cat Osterman loves two things: softball and milk.
A former collegiate 4-time All-American and 2-time medal-winning Olympian, Osterman is a left-handed pitcher in the sport of softball, and she spends hours and hours each day perfecting her game for the Tokyo Olympics, taking place in the capital city of Japan later this year.
Osterman also has a special love for milk, and she is part of the iconic got milk? campaign’s Team Milk, a group of best-in-class athletes setting out to debut/re-debut new sporting events at the 2021 Olympics. Houston Family Magazine spoke with Osterman about her experience as a professional softball player and also as a part of Team Milk.
What does it mean to you to be joining the iconic got milk? campaign and be a part of Team Milk?
I was extremely honored when got milk? called and asked if I would be part of this campaign. Got milk? and their campaigns in general have always been popular. It’s kind of a rite of passage, so to speak as an athlete, if you get the opportunity to join Team Milk. I was truly honored, and I think it’s awesome that Team Milk is built of athletes that are debuting or re-debuting new sporting events at the Olympics. It’s been fun to be included with such unique athletes while also being able to share our passion for each of our sports.
How has milk helped you throughout your athletic career? How do you incorporate it into your workout diet?
I’ve drank milk ever since I was little. Obviously, when you’re young your parents remind you that it’s going to make your bones stronger because of the calcium in milk. But, as I’ve gotten older and as an athlete, I’ve learned that milk is the ultimate training fuel. It helps me rehydrate, with my recovery and so much more. It’s always part of my pre- and post-training routine and having to compete at the pro level, milk gives me the nutrients I need to perform. I’ll have milk in the mornings, especially if I know I have an intense day coming up because it is a nutrient-dense drink that I can either add to a smoothie or have on the side of my breakfast. I know the nutrients that milk offers really help me to perform at my best.
How did you get started in softball?
A friend of mine in the neighborhood asked me to play in a league where 1st through 5th graders were on the same team. So, being one of the younger ones on the team, I didn’t enjoy it and I quit. I then played soccer for about four or five years until I got bored being a goalie. After that, I asked if I could try another sport and my dad suggested giving softball another try. So, I did. I, fortunately, had some coaches that were really great and encouraged me to keep going at it. Then, the first time they needed somebody to try pitching because our pitchers had reached their inning limits for the week, they let me jump in and the rest is history. I loved it from the very first second I ever tried to pitch. So, I tell people: I love the game, but I fell in love with pitching.
Tell me more about the qualification process for the Olympics. How were you selected to compete in Tokyo?
Our team as a whole had to qualify in 2018 so they went to the World Championships and won, which gave them the number one seed and qualification for the Olympic Games. At that time, I had decided I wanted to play again, so I went through the tryout process just like I had in the first 10 years of my Team USA experience. In January 2019, I was fortunate to make the team and trained with them through 2019. Then in September of 2019, we had our Olympic tryout and I felt really good about the tryout process. It consists of a morning of drills and then scrimmaging against each other. They take your stats and monitor your performance and scrimmages because it’s the best of the best in our country playing against each other. I felt confident and knew I had performed well having been through this process before in my younger years of playing, so I knew what to expect. I was so excited to make the team and it was special to see so many of my teammates get that email or that call for the first time saying, “Hey you know you’re going to the Olympics?”
What are your hopes for the Olympics?
The hope is that we go over there, and we can come home with a gold medal. At the same time, I hope that through the pandemic and all of the changes that have happened over the past year and a half, that athletes are able to still soak in and enjoy the moment and understand that you are still playing on the world’s biggest stage. Regardless if the stands are packed with fans from all over the world or not, just being able to bask in that moment and I hope we all get to appreciate that we’re still playing with the best of the best as far as sporting events go.
When you heard the news that the Olympics were postponed, what was your reaction? How did you use this extra time?
Seeing everything happen in the world, I kind of expected the postponement; the question was how long the postponement would be. After we got past the first couple of months, it made sense to postpone it a year because at that point you’re asking summer sports to compete in different seasons. So, my husband and I had a long conversation about what we would do, and he encouraged me to keep going. I had to make some changes like resigning my position at Texas State University because another year of training meant another year away from coaching and I didn’t want to put them in that situation. At the same time, I knew that I needed to be able to fully commit to an extra year because I am an older athlete and I have to take care of my body. In terms of training, I have to make sure I do things strategically. From then on, I continued to work hard every single day.
Any words of wisdom for kids looking to get into the Olympics or Junior Olympics?
My best piece of advice I give any athlete with big dreams is that you have to dream big but then work hard towards that dream every single day. You cannot let something else become a priority, whatever your dream is, working towards that has to be your priority. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a life, it just means you do what you need to do to continue getting better. Then supplementing that with hanging out with friends or going to movies or whatever else you enjoy doing. It’s dedication, it’s something you have to truly want because once you get to this level it is a grind. You will lift and condition and practice for four hours all on the same day and you have to be able to mentally and physically handle that. So, the way you prepare before you get to that moment is really going to show whether you can be successful or not.