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After Girls Breakthrough Series, new path awaits

New Jersey baseball player plans to serve her country by joining Navy
June 15, 2019

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- As part of the second annual MLB Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series, 65 of the world’s best players visited Marlins Park on Saturday for a Career Chat with female Miami Marlins' front-office employees. In addition to the Career Chat, they’ll also watch the game between the Marlins

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- As part of the second annual MLB Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series, 65 of the world’s best players visited Marlins Park on Saturday for a Career Chat with female Miami Marlins' front-office employees.

In addition to the Career Chat, they’ll also watch the game between the Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Belgian player makes trek for Breakthrough Series

A lifelong New York Mets fan, Breakthrough Series attendee Tori Bravo isn’t exactly rooting for the home team -- she insists “if the Marlins lose, the Mets win” -- but is thrilled for the experience of live baseball, nonetheless. She visited Dodger Stadium with the MLB Trailblazer Series in 2017 and says the ballpark visits she’s taken with MLB and USA Baseball are some of her favorite memories.

“To see all the ballparks and stuff like that -- you always see them on TV -- but when you see them in person you just sit back and be like, ‘Wow,’" Bravo said. “It’s a pretty good feeling.”

The Career Chat included first-hand experiences of women who broke through in the male-dominated baseball industry. Bravo, 17, plans on applying their advice to a similarly male-dominated field: the military.

Bravo, who played on her high school’s varsity baseball team in Hoboken, N.J., this season, will attend the U.S. Naval Academy next year after a 10-month stay in the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory school -- which begins in July. She eventually wants to join the Marine infantry as a ground officer or aviator.

“At first, when I started playing baseball for my high school the guys weren’t so sure, but once I was able to prove myself that I could stick around with them, they were fine with it,” Bravo said. “So hopefully that’ll be the same thing when I go to the service academy, too, to show that a woman can actually do what a guy can do.”

The experience of playing baseball and attending events like the Breakthrough Series are part of why Bravo is compelled to serve her country; she knows girls from other countries don’t have those same opportunities. Joining the U.S. Naval Academy is how she’s showing her gratitude.

Coincidentally, the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, where she’s playing this weekend, housed a naval base in the 1940s.

“I always wanted to give back to something bigger than myself,” Bravo said. “My mom and dad always talked about service, whether it be at the community level or at the highest level to our nation. I mean, just the pride and honor to say that you served is something that I wanted to do to give back to my country, because this country’s given so much to me -- like the freedom to play baseball -- so I wanted to be able to give back.”

Even though Bravo’s parents always emphasized the importance of helping others, Bravo was still “so nervous” about sharing with them her intention to join a service academy. That uneasiness intensified when her friends’ military aspirations were received poorly by their families.

Once she did break the news, however, Bravo got exactly the reaction she wanted.

“When I told them, they were just so supportive, and I was so grateful because it just took a whole weight off my shoulders to know that they’ll have my back 110 percent,” Bravo said.

When Bravo wore her varsity baseball jersey for the first time, she was overcome with emotion. The long days she spent playing catch with her father at the local ballpark finally paid off. At that point, Bravo represented more than herself; she represented her entire community, a feeling she said was “amazing.”

But when Bravo visited the U.S. Naval Academy, she found a uniform that meant even more than that. And she’s been on a path to wear it ever since.

“There was one senior that I met, and she studied Arabic,” Bravo said. “She was able to travel to Morocco and a bunch of different cool countries. And just seeing her in her uniform, the pride she had, wearing the flag on her right shoulder, I just thought that was the coolest thing; I thought she was like a superhero. It sort of motivated me to work harder and make sure I get in so my dreams could come true.”