Catching up with Saddleback College softball player Jillian Gellatly

Jillian Gellatly in her softball uniform. Jillian Gellatly/Courtesy

Sitting down with one of the Saddleback’s finest softball players and discussing sports, injuries and how COVID-19 has affected sports

The past year has been very hard on America’s youth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – whether it had to do with schooling or even sports. Futures and careers have even been put on hold.

Online schooling has been a considerable change. It attempted to provide help and normalcy for students to keep up with their studies. One thing that has also been an exciting change for students is participation in sports.

Jillian Gellatly talks about how competing in sports has been so different lately, what she is up to now and what her plans are for the future for her sports career, school plans and plans for after finishing school.

“I’ve been playing softball since I was sixteen,” says Gellatly. “I just got my A.A. last semester and I’m just getting my personal training certification this semester.”

Gellatly, 21-years-old, describes how COVID-19 has also affected her younger brother, Jake Gellatly, and his experience graduating from San Clemente High School. Unfortunately, his senior year as a varsity baseball player was cut short and he was unable to go to prom or have a formal graduation ceremony.

Compared to youth that partakes in sports as recreation and not necessarily preparation for competition in high school or college, they have had a less complicated time adjusting. But for high school and college athletes, some students depend heavily on sports to get them into schools or a professional career, which has been highly discouraging since sports have been essentially put on hold over the past year.

“I played my first year, the 2019 season my freshmen year and we played the whole season,” says Gellatly. “We played January to May in 2019. I came back my second year and played in the Fall for pre-season. Then I got my injury, and then COVID-19 hit in 2020.”

She was in her second year at Saddleback when the pandemic started and was a part-time student, part-time employee and part-time softball player. Ultimately, softball season was cut short in 2020.

Gellatly is a San Clemente native, and her father, David Gellatly, is currently a varsity baseball coach at San Clemente High School. Sports is in the blood of the whole Gellatly family, and they are all very passionate about baseball and softball, mainly including mother Erica and younger sister Jenna. The family has even named their dog Griffey after legendary baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. aka “The Kid.”

Gellatly has also been struggling with sports injuries over the past few years. Already undergone two different shoulder surgeries in the past two years. Being a pitcher and playing softball her entire life, it is kind of clear why she’s had her fair share of shoulder and knee injuries.

“My labrum was torn in my shoulder, and it was just over time from wear and tear,” says Gellatly. “There wasn’t just one specific incident.”

She explains how she thought her shoulder was torn for much longer than she anticipated.

“My 2019 season I played the whole season and started at shortstop every game, and I was just playing through the pain,” says Gellatly. “I knew something was wrong, but I played that entire season, so it was probably torn during that whole time that I played on it.”

Her choice to play with an injured shoulder deeply affected her future seasons and her life.

“When I came back in fall of 2019, before the 2020 season, I had to keep going to the trainer and getting treated because it was still hurting so bad,” says Gellatly. “Even after I took the summer off, and so they told me to get it checked out, and that’s when they found the tear. So then I had surgery in December of 2019.”

Unfortunately, her shoulder injury wasn’t resolved then and there.

“After I did the full rehab for twelve months, we found out that the surgery wasn’t done correctly,” says Gellatly. “So when I reached my one-year mark in December 2020, they found that it was still completely torn, and I had to get it completely re-done in January of 2021.”

Uplifting her spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gellatly has started her training program to get through her setbacks from her injuries and COVID-19 and help people get into shape in a fun and safe way. She has been doing this since November 2020.

“I work for a company called Fitcore, but I can bring in my own clients and start my own classes,” says Gellatly. “We work with addiction recovery centers and people training out of their home gyms. I work with athletes, and I work with adults and even young kids. Also, our gym is open and mobile, so we don’t have to worry about getting shut down because of COVID-19.”

She also hosts her classes open to the public in her hometown of San Clemente, California, at Pines Park every Wednesday night and Saturday morning.

“It’s kind of a H.I.I.T. workout style, which is high-intensity interval training,” says Gellatly. “We use bands and body weights, and it’s a mixture of strength, cardio, core and stretching.”

After all the trials and tribulations of the past couple of years, from sports injuries to COVID-19, Gellatly shares that persistence is critical, and as long as one works hard and pushes through tough times, one will always get where they want to go.