Get out the screwdrivers: Olivia Shaw needs room to figure out how she’s going to organize the new gifts she received last weekend in Cincinnati.
Shaw, 10, said she’ll need her parents, John and Tracy, to help construct a new shelf in her Buford home to display a national championship trophy she earned July 14 for taking first place at a MLB Pitch, Hit and Run program during All-Star Week.
“It’s going to be hard,” said Shaw, laughing. “I’m gonna need a big (shelf). I’ve got to make some room.”
Shaw pitched, hit and ran her way to a title at the local, state and national competitions in the 9-10 year-old girls division to earn a bulk of souvenirs from MLB. She even got to celebrate her victory by watching the All-Star Game July 14 with her dad, on the upper deck of the first-base side at the Great American Ball Park.
A big fan of the Atlanta Braves, Shaw said she had a great time, even if Braves’ pitcher Shelby Miller didn’t get to take the mound. The 10-year old was the lone champion from Georgia, and one of two champions to represent the Braves — the other being Madison Hayes (13 and 14-year old girls division) of Ooltewah, Tenn.
“You have to have confidence and believe in yourself, and focus,” said Shaw, of her approach to competing on the highest stage. “There are a lot of people watching me, but you’ve got to tune it out. It was no sweat after that.”
Inspired by a physical education teacher at Duncan Creek Elementary, Shaw first took part in her school’s local competition before progressing to — and winning — similar events at Coolray Field and Turner Field.
With many events beginning as early as March, approximately 625,000 kids take part in more 4,400 PHR competitions across North America. After local and state events, the top three competitors from each age group advance to the national finals. The Shaw family found out in late June that Olivia would be heading to Cincinnati by watching the MLB Network, which broadcast the winners’ names live.
“She and I were sitting on the couch, holding out for it,” said Tracy. “We just started screaming and hugging. It’s been an amazing experience, an awesome experience.”
When it comes to skills-based competitions, Olivia is a seasoned professional. She’s participated in an NFL-led Punt, Pass and Kick event at the Georgia Dome and was a part of a Hoops Shoot free throw state contest, which was sponsored by the Elks Lodge.
To get to Cincinnati for the finals, the rising fifth-grader had to hop a plane just hours after arriving back home from a 10-and-under World Series event in Panama City, Fla. with her local travel softball team, the Dirt Dawgs.
Shaw even got to take part in shagging balls for the Home Run Derby, where she snagged a bouncing ball from Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger Josh Donaldson.
Shaw said she’s often motivated by her big brother, Tad Newman, who played baseball for Mill Creek High. The two spent hours on the baseball diamond together, according to Tracy.
“He was really fast and athletic,” said Olivia. “It’s probably where I get it from. He’d make me really mad when he beat me.”
Olivia and John will be back in Georgia today, where she’ll get to show off several autographed hats, shirts and carry-on bags courtesy of several MLB teams who donated to the winners.
But Olivia has her eyes set on the future. She’s looking forward to taking another crack at a local Punt, Pass and Kick event this September, just as she starts her final year in elementary school.
If all goes to plan, she might have to do some more scheduled construction.