KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When former Lady Vol and current Team USA softball pitcher Monica Abbott steps into the circle, it doesn't take very long for the ball to leave her glove and cross home plate.
She doesn't waste a lot of time.
Over the past few months while COVID-19 has been front and center, she's been trying not to waste a lot of time off the field.
"Time is the most precious gift in the world and through this pandemic, God has granted us extra time," Abbott said.
She's already done a lot with her time. She's used it to represent the University of Tennessee as one of the most decorated pitchers in NCAA history. Now with the return of softball to the Olympics, Abbott is using her time to once again represent the United States of America as part of Team USA.
"We really had a conversation about me returning to Team USA and being a part of that process and being part of the team and what I could do not only from the circle but as just like a veteran, showing leadership and work ethic and dedication."
"It's been one of my greatest joys to wear USA across my chest."
With the postponement of the Olympics to 2021, time seemed to stand still. Abbott and Team USA were playing scrimmages around the country as part of the Stand Beside Her Tour, the decision lifted a weight off of her shoulders.
"You know, it was a little bit of a sigh of relief," Abbott said.
"We knew what was happening in the world and we could understand that instead of being stressed about you know, 'how am I working out without my team? How am I not getting games in? People are sick, am I gonna get sick? Am I going to get my family sick or get the fans sick?"
So since then, she's been training at home, but using her time wisely for herself and the game.
"I hosted a workout class for softball players, an offseason workout class, I've done a couple of virtual events. That sort of time is something that I maybe wouldn't have done if I was in season or if this pandemic hadn't come about."
Instead of time lost, Abbott says there's time gained.
"Something was taken away from us, a season for a lot of the athletes has been taken away, but that doesn't mean your love and passion for the game can't continue to grow, that doesn't mean your education for sports and a healthy lifestyle can't continue to grow," Abbott said.