Fierce competitor Gordy Bravo is preparing for her senior season on the BYU softball team, hoping to go out with a bang.
Bravo, a senior outfielder from Corona, California, is the youngest of three. Though her real name is Marissa, she is known exclusively as Gordy.
“When I was a little baby, I had a babysitter who only spoke Spanish. She saw me and I was a chubby baby, so she called me Gorda, which means fat in Spanish. Then I was on a team with more than one Marissa, and I just told them to call me Gordy. It stuck. Everybody calls me that now. Marissa does not exist.”
She grew up in a sports-oriented home, her parents Robert and Michelle both having played sports growing up. Her dad coached her brother in baseball, so while they were playing or practicing, Bravo would play tee-ball on the nearby field.
“For her first two years she played with boys because it was convenient with her dad coaching,” Michelle Bravo said. “She didn’t play with girls until she was seven. She loved it. She grew up around sports with her dad playing and coaching ball and her brother playing ball.”
After continuing to play softball competitively, it came time for Bravo to choose a college to attend. She was recruited by UCLA, so she went to watch the team play in a tournament. The game that she attended was against BYU, a school neither she nor her parents had ever heard of before. The Cougars beat the Bruins in that game, and Bravo’s interest was spiked.
“As a high school student, Gordy had different priorities than I did when she was looking at schools, like the brand and colors, which were both things she liked about BYU,” Michelle said. “We had never heard of BYU. It completely surprised us! We did our research after that first impression. One of her really good friends in high school was Mormon and Gordy asked her about it and she told her about BYU. Gordy asked about coach’s contact information from her because of that.”
The Bravos did more research on BYU after that game. The more games she watched, the more she became interested. The unofficial visit confirmed in Bravo’s mind that Provo was the place for her. For her mother, the honor code was not a point of concern for Bravo, despite not being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We liked BYU because we knew what she was not going to be doing,” Michelle said. “We never had those issues with her in high school when we reviewed it with her.”
Coming to BYU as a freshman can be intimidating for anyone, but with Bravo’s personality, she jumped right in. According BYU softball head coach Gordon Eakin, Bravo clicked with the team immediately.
“She has fit in right from the start,” Eakin said. “She’s a very fiery competitor on the field and a fun kid off the field.”
One of Bravo’s teammates who arrived on campus at the same time was Coco Tauali’i, a fellow senior from Torrance, California. The third baseman knew Bravo long before coming to Provo. They had a rivalry going, but the animosity went away as they became teammates.
“When we started going to school together, I didn’t really like her because we played against each other all growing up,” Tauali’i said. “Once we got here, we became best friends. We were roommates our first year. We started playing against each other in 10-and-unders in California and continued playing against each other all the way up to 18s. Whenever she was on a really competitive team, our teams were always rivals.”
Another thing that bonds these two seniors is their unique nicknames. Coco’s real name is Coryn, but she goes strictly by Coco. According to Bravo, the nickname came from her brown eyes.
Bravo has had a successful career at BYU. In each of her three seasons, she has helped her team win the conference championship and compete in the NCAA tournament. Her 2013 freshman campaign resulted in Bravo being named the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Freshman of the Year. Battling a hamstring injury, Bravo’s sophomore season saw fewer accolades, but her consistency and competitive nature helped her make key contributions to the team.
In 2015, she was named West Coast Conference Player of the Year after leading the league in hits (24), runs (20) and on-base percentage (.569). She also led the team in batting by hitting .444 with four home runs, two triples, nine doubles, 76 hits and 30 RBI. She notched the second best single-season average in school history.
One of the highlights of Bravo’s career came early on in her freshman season. Though a seemingly insignificant moment, it gave her the confidence a young freshman needs.
“My first home run as a college athlete was the highlight of my career,” Bravo said. “It was at Utah Valley University and we were down. I hit a home run in the seventh inning to tie it up. That was pretty cool. And I was a freshman too, which made it exciting.”
Outside of BYU, Bravo has had the opportunity to play with the Mexican National Team for the past two summers. She is the granddaughter of native Mexicans, which qualifies her to tryout and be on the team. Some of her former teammates were trying out for the team, so she also tried out and ended up making the roster.
“Being on Team Mexico is really cool,” Bravo said. “We get to travel a lot. We went to Holland this past summer. Half of the team is from Mexico and the other half is from the States, so it is a fun dynamic. I know some of them because I’ve played with or against some of them over the years. I’ll play against some of them this year, which will be fun.”
Having a player on the team who is on a national team is a big boost for BYU. Not only does Bravo get irreplaceable experience for herself, but also for the team.
“It brings notoriety to the program to have one of our players on any national team on our team,” Eakin said. “For me, it brings great satisfaction that Gordy is getting the recognition she deserves.”
Entering her senior year, Bravo has big goals. While she has been on the team, BYU has not made it past NCAA regionals.
“I want to get past regionals,” Bravo said. “I hope to have a better year than all of my other seasons, going out strong.”
With her qualities, those around her believe that Bravo is capable of great things. Known for her tenacity and feisty spirit, she has been a leader on the field ever since she first stepped onto it.
“She is definitely a leader,” Tauli’i said. “I feel like her presence is very needed on the field to keep everything together. Her biggest strength is her mental game and that allows her to be a great leader.”
Replacing Bravo on the team next year will not be an easy feat for Eakin. Though she is great in all of the aspects of the game, her fighting spirit will be missed.
“It’s just the total package we will miss after she graduates,” Eakin said. “She is real, genuine and my type of player because she gives everything she has to the team.”
Through all of her triumphs and trials, Bravo has stayed strong. Her inspiration? Her mother, Michelle.
“My mom inspires me,” Bravo said. “She is always the one to push me. I see her working hard and it makes me want to work hard for her.”
Michelle is overjoyed to see Bravo succeeding in an environment where she never pictured her daughter. These have been the best years of Bravo’s life.
“She loves it (at BYU) and I know she is happy there,” Michelle said. “That’s all we ask of her, on the field and off the field. We ask her how she feels, and she says, ‘I’ve never been happier.’”