RANGLEY, Colorado — Softball has faced many challenges throughout the years in the state of Wyoming. Opportunities for Wyoming girls to play at the next level are rare and unique. Aaliyah Brady is one of the rare and unique stories for Wyoming softball. The Green River native currently plays for Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, Colorado.
Growing up in Wyoming, softball was an outsider sport. Brady, like many local youth, played tee-ball and graduated to more popular sports like volleyball, basketball, and track as she grew older. The future college ball player was first introduced to softball when she was 12-years-old. Thanks to a local coach who saw her athleticism, she was approached about showcasing her talents on the traveling softball team.
“At first I wasn’t really sure I had watched the game before but I never played and I didn’t know if I was going to be any good,” Brady said.
After careful consideration, Brady decided to give it a shot for one year to see if she liked the new sport. Green River went on to win the state title that year and she decided to leave behind her volleyball and track spikes for her new found love with softball. The relationship led her to win three state titles during her traveling softball years. During her senior year she was granted an All-State award as a member of the Rock Springs Storm.
The Big Decision
Prior to the decision to sanction softball as a high school sport in Wyoming earlier this year, Brady and the hundreds of girls before her faced major challenges trying to get recruited.
“I wanted the opportunity of playing college softball to become a reality,” Brady said. “So I knew I needed to get myself out there and do something different with more exposure.”
Brady made an online recruiting profile and soon began getting contacts from all over the country. When it came to making her big decision, she decided to go with Colorado Northwestern Community College. After playing summer and fall ball she had met a coach out of Grand Junction, Colorado.
“I met with my coach from Grand Junction and I ended up traveling every weekend five hours to Grand Junction to practice and five hours the other way to Denver to play for tournaments,” Brady said.
Beyond the fact that Brady liked her match with Colorado Northwestern, she wanted to go somewhere smaller and closer to home while seeing how she could balance softball and her academics. She also hoped to gain knowledge in Rangley to bring back to other girls who face similar situations.
“I knew this would be a very big opportunity especially being from Wyoming as softball was not a high school or college sport,” Brady said. “I also felt that one day maybe I could bring back my knowledge of the game and skills to help girls like me who love softball make their dreams a reality.”
A Lesson on Adversity
During her freshman year as a Spartan, Brady faced an early season ending injury. A few games into the season, she tore her shoulder diving headfirst into home plate. Despite the tragic injury, she was ruled safe and it proved to be a tying a run that helped lead to the Spartan’s first win of the season.
Upon further examination, the doctor broke the news to Brady that she had torn her labrum in her shoulder down to her bicep and tricep. The doctor originally told her that the labrum was torn clean off of the bone and it would require a surgery that could keep her out until January of 2020. In her own words, “it wasn’t looking good for my softball career.”
During the surgery, the doctor discovered that the tear wasn’t as severe as originally thought. Brady was able to heal quickly and underwent rehab. Her hard work and pure determination helped her get back on the diamond for the team’s 2019 fall pre-season where they went 10-2-1.
“The one thing that I have really learned is how to face adversity,” Brady said. “My goal is to only get stronger and to help contribute to our spring season since I did not get the opportunity to finish last year.”
Brady’s freshman year of college saw a wealth of achievements. She managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA, received the NJCAA Academic All-American First Team award, the Scenic West Athletic Conference Academic All-American award, the Spartan Mentality award, and the honor of being selected Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society vice president. As for her sophomore year, she finished the first semester with a 4.0 and plans to graduate with a 4.0 GPA.
In addition to her many awards, she now has another career defining decision to make.
“I am currently trying to figure out where I want to go next year,” Brady said. “I do have opportunities to keep playing softball at four-year universities, but with the medical programs I’m currently looking into, it comes down to choosing to further my collegiate softball career or going into the medical field right away.
“The one thing that I have definitely learned over the years is play every game like it’s your last because you never know when it might be.”