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Peters follows same path as her ‘hometown hero,’ Aaron Rodgers

By Mara Allen

GREEN BAY – Does the following story sound familiar?

An athlete from Chico, California, received no Division I offers out of high school.

They attended junior college to prove they could compete before having a successful career at the Division I level.

Now, they’re playing in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It’s the tale of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, of course.

But it’s also the story of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) third baseman, Alicia Peters.

Peters’ softball career started with tee-ball when she was six years old.

She then began playing softball competitively at eight.

Even at a young age, Peters faced setbacks.

After being diagnosed with spherocytosis, a blood disease that affects red blood cells, she had her spleen removed before first grade.

Common side effects of spherocytosis include shortness of breath and fatigue due to decreased oxygen flow.

As a result, Peters’ doctor told her that many people with spherocytosis have difficulty competing in high-intensity sports that require high levels of oxygen flow.

Peters made it her mission to prove that statistic wrong.

She attended Pleasant Valley High School in Chico – the same high school Rodgers graduated from in 2002 – from 2012 to 2016.

During her junior year softball season at Pleasant Valley, Peters was forced to leave the team to focus on family matters happening at the time and to take care of her younger sister.

“It was difficult,” Peters said of the decision. “Our team was good, and I was playing well that year.”

Ultimately, Peters said she had to sacrifice softball to put her family first.

Peters returned for her senior year with the Vikings, but because she missed so much of her junior season — when a heavy portion of college recruiting occurs — she did not receive any Division I offers.

“It was depressing,” Peters said. “I remember I used to cry all the time, but I knew I had to get through it.”

Refusing to give up, Peters chose to attend Sierra College — a community college in Rocklin, California — to continue her softball career and work toward her goal of playing at the Division I level.

Peters said she struggled to earn playing time her first year, but a few impressive games toward the end of her freshman season gave her the confidence needed to bet on herself going forward.

Peters found herself at a crossroads when her softball coach at Sierra said she didn’t think Peters was good enough to play at the Division I level.

According to the coach, Peters would only ever be successful at the lower National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) or Division III levels.

As a result, Peters quit the team and decided to train individually.

She worked toward recruitment on her own, staying up late every night to email her film to Division I coaches and express interest in playing for their programs.

Despite no longer playing collegiately, Peters was still taking reps and getting exposure, thanks to an old travel ball coach who let her play on her team.

Eventually, all of Peters’ hard work and perseverance paid off.

After earning her associate’s degree in Psychology and Science of Social Behavior from Sierra College in spring 2018, Peters enrolled at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.

It was there she finally achieved her dream of being a part of a Division I program, signing to play softball for the Bulls.

When Buffalo’s 2021 schedule was announced, three games, in particular, stood out to Peters.

Her team would be playing against Louisiana State University (LSU), Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL).

All three programs had told her she wasn’t good enough to play for them or at their level during her recruitment process a few years earlier.

Remembering these conversations gave Peters extra motivation, she said.

“When I saw our schedule last year — that we were playing these three schools — every workout, every practice, every lifting session, I went in there with the mindset of, ‘I will make these coaches sorry,’” Peters said.

And she did.

Peters performed well against all three of those opposing teams, even hitting a game-tying home run during Buffalo’s game against LSU.

Peters had great success academically throughout her two years in New York – she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and began a master’s program in rehab counseling for disabilities.

She was prosperous athletically as well, continuing to prove all her doubters wrong.

Still, Peters said she wasn’t especially happy at the University of Buffalo.

Thus, after graduating, she decided to use her extra year of eligibility to play for a different program.

Betting on herself again, Peters entered her name in the NCAA transfer portal.

After spending time with UWGB softball utility player Lauren King at a summer camp, Peters learned about Green Bay’s program and talked with Phoenix Head Coach Sara Kubuske.

“Alicia’s competitive drive is what stood out the most to me,” Kubuske said. “She talked about wanting to better herself and her team. She never mentioned wanting guaranteed playing time. She wanted to compete and be a part of the culture we’re trying to build here at Green Bay.”

A few days later, Peters committed to play at UWGB.

Now a graduate student studying Health and Wellness Management and continuing her dream of playing Division I softball, Peters said she looks back on her journey and smiles.

After years of facing adversity, here she is — in Green Bay, Wisconsin — happy, content and proving her doubters wrong, exactly like her hometown hero – the same hero who gave her hope while she was struggling years ago.

“I love Aaron Rodgers and love his story,” Peters said. “When I was in high school deciding to go to junior college, I used to watch his interviews over and over because it was the only thing giving me hope. Looking at him, he was this huge superstar, and he went on this same path I was going on. He made it out (and proved everyone wrong).”

Through it all, Peters said she’s realized her struggles have made her a stronger person.

She said her journey hasn’t been easy, but it was worth it in the end.

“She hasn’t had an easy path,” Kubuske said. “She’s had ups and downs, but I’ll tell you something… that kid has never given up. She didn’t want things handed to her. She was willing and had to work for every single thing she’s gotten. It’s been a grind for her, but her hard work has paid off.”

Peters had one final thought upon ending.

“If I keep betting on myself, I can’t lose,” she said.

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