Photo courtesy of Jenna Olszewski.
Jenna Olszewski and Abby Tissier are set to play college softball together at Auburn.
Abby Tissier and Jenna Olszewski are near social opposites.
Tissier is talkative by nature and attacks new situations with fervor. Olszewski is much more guarded and quiet and approaches inevitable change cautiously.
The first time the two met brought out both of their personalities.
Olszewski moved to Hoover from Michigan following her sixth-grade year and joined the Birmingham Bolts travel softball program. She was introduced to the team at a summer practice, a group of girls she had never met before.
Tissier took Olszewski’s introduction in stride, but when the two saw each other at Bumpus Middle School, an instant bond formed. “I saw her at my school, and I said, ‘Jenna, what’s up?’” Tissier recalled excitedly. “We’ve just kind of grown really close over the years, and I love her.”
Olszewski remembers Tissier’s constant energy that first practice and was taken aback. But she came around.
“I never thought I would get along with someone like that because I’m so quiet and reserved and not very outgoing unless you know me,” Olszewski said.
The two were inseparable as middle-schoolers and as freshmen at Hoover High School. Even though Olszewski transferred to Spain Park High School before her sophomore year, they still played together with the Bolts through last summer.
Their days as teammates are far from over, however.
Olszewski committed to play at Auburn University during her freshman year of high school. One of her visits to the Plain made that decision easy. “I went for my visit during the Iron Bowl, when Auburn won the Kick Six game, and we all went crazy, and I knew right then that was where I wanted to be,” Olszewski said.
Auburn was always Tissier’s top choice, and she committed a few months after Olszewski. There was never a doubt that the two would make plans to room together.
They are convinced they will coexist successfully.
“We were so close in middle school and even though she left, we’re still so close,” Tissier said. “I don’t feel like there’s going to be any difficulty with it. We’re going to help each other through hard times.”
“We’re both very organized, and she’s very smart,” Olszewski said. “I think we’ll both hold each other accountable and help each other.”
The two exceptional talents — Tissier is a catcher, while Olszewski can play several positions on the diamond — are not simply playing for the in-state school that will be happy to compete occasionally. Auburn’s program has transformed into one with national championship aspirations each season, something that inspires and motivates both.
“It’s like the opportunity of a lifetime,” Tissier said, “just to be coached by those coaches and just to be in that atmosphere.”
Olszewski sees it as even more of an opportunity after Auburn fell one game short of its first Women’s College World Series victory in 2016, falling in game three to Oklahoma.
“It’s very motivating,” she said. “It’s serious business. I wouldn’t go there expecting anything else. It makes you want to work harder, because you know people have unfinished business, after losing last year.”
But before the two run off to college, there is one season of high school ball left, and their outlooks on the final season exacerbate their personalities.
Tissier shows over-the-top excitement about what lies ahead.
“I don’t want [my senior year] to end, but I do want it to end, because I really do want to go to Auburn,” she said. “Everyone is telling me it’s going to be the best four years of my life, and I so believe it. It’s just a really good opportunity.”
For Olszewski, playing for Auburn in future years is a “dream come true,” but admitted the conclusion of her high school career will be emotional, especially considering the fact Spain Park finished runner-up at the state tournament last season, and the Lady Jags have aspirations of getting back to that mark.
“It’s every person’s dream (to win state). You want to be able to say you’re the best. It gets you very excited,” Olszewski said.
They may be two different people, but they will be joined at the hip for at least four more years beyond this spring.