Robles uses personal obstacles as on-field motivation


Eliana Chandra

Sophomore Gabi Robles runs to first base after a hit against Purdue on April 16. Robles tries to use obstacles she faces as motivation on the field during her games.

Perfection is not a standard; it’s an obstacle. Yet, the drive for perfectionism can be a positive force. By taking this perfectionist mentality and honing in on personal skills, techniques and tactics, self-improvement is inevitable.

Sophomore utility player Gabi Robles doesn’t let perfection become the adversary to her progression. She is aware of her personal expectations and standards for her competitive performance, but she strives to not let them get the best of her. 

“Honestly, I was my own, kind of, setback mentally,” Robles said. “I was just really hard on myself. I expect a lot from myself, knowing the work and time that I put in. ”

There’s a quote by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk that says, “glorify ambition not as a means to an end, but as a lifestyle.” It’s easy to allow setbacks and failures to determine “all or nothing” in a given situation. Robles makes it imperative to take this challenge and use it to her benefit, for within her perfectionism there are opportunities to reflect, learn and adjust her approach.

Realistically, perfection is not attainable, though striving for perfection can achieve excellence. This is exactly what Robles does. She uses her own expectations and passion for the game of softball to motivate and remind her to stay relaxed and enjoy the moment she’s in. 

“(To overcome) that perfectionist mentality, just stay loose and remember that it’s softball and it’s fun,” Robles said. “I’m playing with my best friends, so (it’s important) to just have fun with it, laugh and stay loose.” 

Robles not only uses her enthusiasm to better her game, but she also looks up to those players who have been here longer than her for mentorship. She uses her perfectionism and her teammates’ advice, guidance and direction to adopt and mold her competence. With the guidance of her teammates, Robles is able to work toward continuous improvement. 

“There’s always something to learn,” Robles said. “Everyone on this team really wants the best for the person next to them. I learned to embrace their words and their advice and take it to heart and actually use it on the field.”

Illinois has created a tight bonded and effective team through their hard work. Each individual member’s abilities and ambitions create the strength of the team. As a cohesive unit, Robles and the Illini adjust and improve their games with each new lesson learned.

In the realm of COVID-19 when the dynamic can transform at any moment, it’s imperative to work while you can and take advantage of what you have, Robles says.

“It’s a grind; it really is,” Robles said. “But taking each rep and not taking one for granted is what we’ve been telling each other. Nothing is guaranteed, especially with COVID, so we’ve just been working really hard.”

With a current fielding percentage of .931, Robles’ fielding statistics include 29 catches and 25 putouts. Though her batting statistics aren’t up to par — averaging .232 with 56 at-bats, 13 hits, eight runs and five RBIs — she still perseveres toward her next success.

“I’d say consistency at the plate is my next goal,” Robles said. “I’ve been working with the coaches a lot individually and on my own to get more consistent in the games.”

The hard work seems to be paying off in one way or another. Robles’ defensive tactics put her at No. 8 on a recent edition of SportsCenter’s top ten plays.

Her diving catch, which she states could have been completed by anyone on the field, was a direct result of the team’s hard-work and diligence in the outfield.

“We work really hard in the outfield in practice,” Robles said. “We always say that we have the best outfield in the country. So, just all the work that we put in in practices and stuff just made that easy.”

The Minooka, Illinois native continues to trust her process as her drive to overcome her perfectionism grows with each day. Robles embraces becoming a better version of herself with new skill sets, improvements and mindsets being applied to her competitive excellence. 

As Robles continues to progress, she puts perfection aside. Her proverb to remember is to just “have fun, and don’t make it so hard on yourself.” 



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