No. 22 Baylor softball’s Sydney Collazos leaves loud legacy

Baylor softball senior catcher Sydney Collazos is entering her fourth and final year with the Bears, and she enters her third season as the starting catcher behind home plate. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

Folks may think they know Sydney Collazos after talking to her for five minutes.

After all, the self-described “extrovert bordering on obnoxious” could probably befriend a tree stump that quickly. That’s who the senior Baylor softball backstop has always been, though. Someone who cracks a joke to loosen her team up when things get too serious, or the catcher that fans see chatting with the umpire behind home plate every other pitch.

It’s a loudmouth role the Bears are more than used to by now as she starts her fourth and final year at Baylor.

“Things will be a lot quieter around here next year,” head coach Glenn Moore quipped. “She asks us every day if we’re going to miss her, so I think she’s brainwashing us to think we will.”

Collazos can’t imagine softball practices any other way, though. She said there has to be some fun amid the grind of a season.

“I tell them all the time — good luck finding somebody to fill my shoes in that department because it’s a blast,” Collazos said. “I’m not saying it’s all me, but it’s a lot. [Moore’s] going to be really bored without me. I take a lot of pride in being loud and obnoxious because it’s fun.”

Although outgoing around the team, media and fans as part of her sport, it’s a polar opposite in a classroom setting. The health science studies major called speaking in class her “worst nightmare.”

“I sit in the very back and I do not speak,” Collazos said. “There’s only been one class where we’ve been called on and had to — like, you didn’t really get a choice — and it triggered my fight or flight.”

But being afraid to speak in class hasn’t stopped Collazos from her ultimate goal of becoming some sort of doctor. Collazos has juggled being a student-athlete on the pre-med track for over three years now, and she’s closing in on her undergrad degree.

When she’s not behind home plate, in the box at bat or even playing third base, Collazos is frantically studying for an intense exam or scampering over to Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco to work and learn more about her doctoral future.

Senior outfielder Emily Hott, who’s spent her entire Baylor journey with Collazos, is still comprehending how the chatty backstop has that kind of career trajectory — as well as the brains to have that potential.

“She’s the smartest person ever,” Hott said. “She always jokes about tests and how she’s struggling but comes back with a 98. And it’s like, out of anybody I would guess to be stupid, it’d be Sydney, but she’s not.”

Senior outfielder McKenzie Wilson, who started living with Collazos this year, said Collazos has a “photographic memory.”

“She has brains, books, all the things,” Wilson said. “I’m definitely excited for her future. It is kind of scary to think that she could be a doctor one day. But yeah, [I’m] excited for her, excited for her future.”

It’s like two different people in one. Collazos has her goofy side with softball or around her friends, and then she can lock in and be one of the smartest students on campus. She said most people she encounters fails to realize the latter, though.

Collazos is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Peer Buddies, PALS and Blue Crew. She also volunteered with the Georgetown Youth Girls Softball Association and the Ace League. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics
Collazos is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Peer Buddies, PALS and Blue Crew. She also volunteered with the Georgetown Youth Girls Softball Association and the Ace League. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

People in Collazos’ future industry tend to overlook her ability or assume she’s going into something more mundane.

“I get that a lot,” Collazos said. “Shoot, even today I go to pick up my hospital badge … and people ask me if I’m going into medical administration or nursing. They don’t assume that somebody who — I wear my athletic gear, I’m a female. Nobody likes to assume that we have the potential that we do. And so I do take a lot of pride in proving a lot of people wrong.”

But it’s still a deflating feeling to know you belong in a profession and still find folks with preconceived notions.

“It is hard,” Collazos said. “You can go into the jock stigma. … You get your tests back and your classmates are looking around for some reason. … And they see what you’re doing, they hear your GPA, they hear what you do, and then they have a little bit more respect for you.

“It’s funny how that works.”

The 2023 CSC Academic All-American said she just rolls with the punches, though. In fact, those doubters have pushed her to keep going in hopes of bringing more women into a male-dominated profession.

The Georgetown native added that her outgoing side won’t leave her once she becomes a doctor. She fully expects her future patients to leave an appointment smiling or giggling, which is important to her.

“The best doctors you’ve ever had, they’re not quiet, and they like to make you feel comfortable,” Collazos said. “So I think that’s something that’s going to be really beneficial for me in the future, is being able to make your patients feel comfortable so that they trust you.”

It’ll be a while before Collazos steps into that role, though. She’s on track to graduate in May, and then she plans to spend a year as a medical scribe, probably with an emergency room doctor at Ascension Providence Hospital.

Then she’ll have four years in medical school where she’ll get to figure out what area she wants to go into. She added that residencies from there can vary from five to
seven years.

“And then after I start growing gray hairs, I get to practice medicine, but hopefully, God-willing, I stick to that plan, because it is a long time,” Collazos said.

As excited as Collazos is about continuing her medical journey, she knows she’s in the midst of an important softball season. Baylor (0-2) is coming off its first 40-win season since 2017 and was on the cusp of hosting an NCAA Regional in Waco.

Collazos has seen the Bears’ growth over her four-year career, and with a veteran roster that returned all but one member of the 2023 squad, she said the sky is the limit for this team.

She just has to remind herself to soak it all in.

“As each year has gone by, I’ve gotten progressively less nervous,” Collazos said. “I would never say I’m never nervous because that’s just not the truth. But this time, it’s a lot more like, just be in the moment. Don’t plan for two games ahead. Don’t plan for a weekend ahead, knowing who we’re going to play. It’s just, tackling the day one day at a time.”

Collazos has been Moore’s trusty catcher since her sophomore season, but her bat hasn’t always been so reliable. Her batting average has seen significant increases over her three years with the program.

She batted .091 in 2021, .285 in 2022 and then hit .348 (second-best on the team) with 49 hits, 24 RBIs and two home runs last season.

That growth — both on the diamond and off it — is a testament to what she said she’s learned since committing to Baylor the summer before her sophomore year at Georgetown High School.

“I can’t even begin to explain it,” Collazos said. “And it’s never been smooth sailing that everyone likes to think it will be. But I’ve just grown so much as a person and as a player. … And I failed. I failed so many times. But I’ve gotten so much stronger each time I failed.

“I can go on and on about this because this experience has been life-changing. And I know that sounds cliche but it really is. This is unlike what I imagined in the best possible way. I’m just glad I got to spend my time here.”