Melody Vallejos’ route to discovering her love for softball was more of a process of elimination than a conscious choice.
“I got my start in softball when I was about eight,” says Vallejos, who will be a senior when classes resume in the fall. “My mom wanted me to get involved in a sport, so I chose the one with the least amount of running that I could find.”
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Her almost accidental find has proven beneficial for the Cornelia Connelly School varsity player. As catcher for the Koalas, Vallejos is the eyes and ears of her team.
“Catcher has always been my favorite position because I get to have the ball every play and I get to be a part of every play, which keeps it interesting,” says Vallejos.
Her role as co-captain this year has fueled Vallejos’ desire to grow as a leader, both on and off the field. And for the team’s leading hitter, it’s a role she has embraced.
“Melody is the heartbeat of our team,” says Connelly’s varsity softball head coach, Jason Manley. “She helps challenge and encourage her teammates, and she’s been a game changer. As a coach, I could not ask for more.”
Vallejos admits that being both a catcher and a leader is something that has evolved for the 17-year-old, roles that require a great deal of patience.
“Being behind the plate, seeing where the ball goes every play, you really have to talk to your team,” says Vallejos. “It took me a long time to get comfortable in my position. It’s taught me that it comes with a lot of hard work.”
Off the field, Vallejos takes great pride in serving her campus as a member of the Executive Board for the school’s ambassadors. And in her community, Vallejos is a part of the youth leadership team at St. Martin de Porres Church in Yorba Linda, working with people there who have “become another family” to the Yorba Linda resident.
Vallejos considers her faith to be of the upmost importance in her life, especially when it comes to representing Connelly on the ball field. The smaller all-girls school is widely known for exhibiting sportsmanship, and Vallejos makes sure to contribute to that distinction.
“My faith is definitely one of the most important things in my life,” says Vallejos. “It has an effect on how I play on the field with regard to other teams. We always treat the other team with respect.”
Heavily influenced by her relationship with her late great-grandmother, Vallejos says her future plans include majoring in sociology, studying abroad and ultimately teaching children in other countries, with the hopes of being able to remain on the softball diamond along the way.
“She was one of the biggest faith influences in my life,” says Vallejos of her great-grandmother. “She’s helped me grow into the woman I am.”