By Mike Patton
NASHVILLE, TN — Freshman phenom Makayla Packer has taken the Southeastern Conference by storm. The freshman softball player has been magical throughout her first season as an Auburn Tiger and she is making a name for herself. For Packer however, softball was something she knew she wanted to do from a young age.
Packer would go to watch her older brother Jaylon play baseball and would always be at the field, but she was introduced to softball at the age of four and that’s when the love affair began.
“I have always been in love with softball. All the other sports I just did for fun. I told my parents when I was younger that I had a dream and that was to play SEC softball.”
Pushing her along the way to her goal was her brother, as he would go out and play catch with her when she wanted to, along with her father Del being there. But another key person in developing her determination was her mother, Daphne.
“My mom was always in my ear pushing me to keep going,” she said.
Packer, who graduated from Baylor High School in Chattanooga, would play sports from basketball to track and field to volleyball growing up, but her focus never went away from where she wanted to go and that was SEC softball. Eventually with all the hard work and support, that dream would become reality as she became an Auburn Tiger. But the goal wasn’t just to get there, it was to shine.
And 20 games into her freshman season, she has definitely started leaving a mark with 11 stolen bases, tying her for fourth place in school history. While those accomplishments are great, Packer also knows that she is setting a foundation for other Black girls who have dreams to play high-level softball.
“It makes me very excited because I am thankful for the opportunity that I have. Little Black girls don’t get the opportunity others have. I try to push and go hard for those other Black girls to let them know that you can go hard and make it here too.”
Being one of a few Black softball players can come with its pressures too and Packer is well aware of that. But she knows it comes with the territory.
“You cannot take anything for granted nor take any days off. You always have to do the extra stuff. You have to do the most.”
“Now that I am here, I finally did it and there is no time to back out. I want more. I don’t just want to settle.”
Packer is working hard and wasting no time becoming an example for young Black women while making a name for herself in the softball world. And according to her and her message, the work is the key thing along the way.
“Keep going hard. Keep pushing and go the extra steps. Don’t settle for anything less.”