One Drover freshman balances two sports, high academic standards, student government and social activities in the whirlwind that is her life.
CHICKASHA -- A Blackberry cell phone is Tashina Ototivo’s most important weapon.
It tells the freshman at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma when she has practice, what homework needs to be done and even when it’s time to walk to choir.
Between balancing A’s and B’s in college, playing two sports at USAO and serving as president of the freshman class, Ototivo needs to stay organized.
“Time management is definitely something you have to learn how to do in college — especially in sports,” said Ototivo, of Walters.
Ototivo plays both basketball and softball at USAO and is an important asset on both teams. She said her goal in both sports is to fulfill her role in the game and on the team.
“I’m pretty sure both coaches have pretty good expectations for me,” she said. “It would be awesome to get some individual honors, but as a team I feel like I just need to play my role and get us to the national championship.”
Head Women’s Basketball Coach Laci Tompkins said it’s important to have players like Ototivo who dream big and work hard to achieve that.
“Tashina is a one-in-a-million type of young lady. She has work ethic that is unbelievable and a beautiful spirit,” Tompkins said. “She is a person of great character and excels in everything she tackles.”
Ototivo averaged more than five rebounds and nearly four points per game as a forward for the Lady Drovers basketball team.
Because of her basketball obligations, Ototivo wasn’t able to practice much or play with the softball team during some of the early-season games, but Head Softball Coach Jennifer White-Cody said her hard work makes up for the missed time.
“As far as a player, she works hard. She gives you everything she’s got,” Cody said. “She’s been, basically, like a fresh look … We put her in center field and she did awesome.”
She averages .286 at bat this season and has had six hits, two of which were doubles, and four runs for the Drovers. She has a 1.000 fielding percentage to top it off.
After classes and a three-hour practice every day, Ototivo still has studying to do. Her focuses are music education and psychology and hopes to become a music therapist someday.
One of her professors, Dr. Jennifer Long, said Ototivo is a talented pianist who sometimes plays for the class before it begins.
“I feel like God’s given me a gift, a gift of music. It’s a passion that I have … I want to help people at the same time,” Ototivo said. “I just feel like I need to give back and give back to God what he’s given me.”
Ototivo said most of her professors are understanding when it comes to her athletic obligations.
“For the most part, they understand,” she said. “Some of them think I’m insane.”
Long said Ototivo doesn’t ignore class work because of athletics nor does she let the drain of all her activities affect her in class.
“Tashina is a joy to have in class. She’s always interested and engaged, and she takes her classes seriously,” she said. “I know she’ll do well during the rest of her career here at USAO.”
Ototivo is also active in student government and has served as freshman class president this year.
Adding to her list of activities, she attends the Student Government Association meetings and keeps up with what students want to see happen at USAO. It’s something she hopes to continue to be active in throughout school.
“Sleep comes when it can,” Ototivo said. “Sometimes you do have to give up some sleep.”
Ototivo is glad to have sports in her life because of the joy and self-esteem they bring her, she said. While softball and basketball are very different sports, she said they have some commonalities.
“I think they both take more mental approach,” she said. “Thinking, and not thinking, is definitely a part of both games.”
Communication, she said, is also key in both sports.
Both teams have struggled in conference play this season, but Ototivo said it’s just teaching her to fight hard and learn to lose.
“It was a very disheartening at first in just knowing that when I came in, I had very high expectations of both teams — knowing that we're good, just everyone else is better,” she said. “I’m definitely working hard for victory and willing to fight.”
Ototivo is able to manage it all by being exceptionally organized, losing sleep once in a while and through a deep faith, she said.
“She gets a little frazzled sometime, but you don’t see it a lot,” Cody said. “I’m amazed at how she does it.”
Ototivo’s faith keeps her in check and able to handle it all, Tompkins said.
“In all honesty she spreads herself too thin. Her strong relationship with God allows her to handle all the stress,” she said. “I expect big things from her on the floor and in life!”
Despite the hectic lifestyle, Ototivo said she hopes to continue all her activities in the future.
“God gives me the strength to do all this to glorify Him and make it through each day,” she said. “My first year of college was a roller coaster, but now I’m getting in the hang of it, all I see is fun.”
Published: April 22, 2010