Student-athlete Doret draws from past experiences to thrive at RIT

Jun 21, 2017

Thumbnail for Student-athlete Doret draws from past experiences to thrive at RIT
Thumbnail for Student-athlete Doret draws from past experiences to thrive at RIT

By Aaron Garland

Thumbnail image and photo on the right provided by RIT Sports Information; work samples are by Olivia Doret

Striking the right balance between school and softball at RIT has been a cinch for Olivia Doret.

An illustration major set to enter her third year, Doret is a member of RIT’s softball team who started in 30 of the Tigers’ 38 games this past spring as a right fielder and second baseman.

Being a student-athlete actually offers Doret optimal comfort in her everyday life. Juggling schoolwork and athletics is what she’s grown accustomed to, dating back to her youth.

The required workouts, practices and assignments provide structure and keep her active at all times.

Relinquishing the softball commitment upon arriving at the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT may have thrown off her rhythm. She finds solace in living a busy life as an aspiring illustrator and athlete. And she’s exceling at both, thanks, in part, to a background — which includes relocating to Europe for a time — that’s readied her for challenges.

“Coming to college, I thought that it would be a big adjustment not to have sports in my life,” said Doret, a solid contact hitter who batted .228 with just seven strikeouts as a sophomore in 2017. “Every day I have been doing something, staying active. So coming to college, I really looked forward to playing softball.”

While a clogged schedule can lead to distraction and complication, Doret has nestled into a comfortable state as a collegiate student-athlete, giving proper dedication to all areas. Softball is a necessary part of her routine.

“It definitely helps to have that element,” said Doret, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated from Chantilly High School in Virginia in 2015. “I know that if I didn’t have the scheduled practices or lifts, I probably wouldn’t do anything with (that time). So it’s really important to have that structure there. It builds character.”

While softball helped Doret as she shifted from high school to college, it is far from the only factor that prepared her for life at RIT.

Doret and her family spent several of her middle and high school years living in France, where she attended the American School of Paris. Based in a Paris suburb, ASP provides an American education in an international community.

Naturally, Doret said she initially experienced a culture shock after moving to another country, on a different continent.

But Doret eventually learned a fair amount of French — she can now have conversations and make jokes in the language — met a wide range of people, got familiar with the new surroundings and became a two-time team MVP of ASP’s varsity softball squad before returning to the U.S. and finishing off the last year-plus of her high school education in Virginia.

“There were so many different cultures and backgrounds (in France),” Doret said. “It was hard getting used to a different lifestyle and a completely different language. That was challenging, but the friends we met helped us integrate into that lifestyle. … It was really fun to try to immerse yourself in a different culture.”

A place where people from all types of cultures interact, collaborate and learn from each other. Sounds a little like where Doret elected to go to college.

Doret said being exposed to a diverse environment in Europe prepared her for what awaited at RIT, which has attracted students from over 100 countries.

“Living overseas helped me transition to the RIT lifestyle,” she said. “Knowing and immersing yourself in a different culture than you’re used to, I think, is definitely beneficial to anyone. I’m really thankful for the experience.”

Part of the experience for Doret was also enriching her artsy side.

Why wouldn’t she?

France, particularly Paris, is famous for its sensational arts scene, museums are plentiful there, and she’s long had a penchant for the visual arts.

“Since I was young, I’ve always been drawing, I’ve always had crayon or colored pencil,” Doret said.

So you bet she took advantage of being situated in one of the art world’s hubs. 

Visiting the droves of museums in Paris, and even Italy, where she traveled to a few times, influenced Doret’s decision to pursue art in college.

“That was amazing. I loved seeing different, famous art,” she said. “Everything is so much different up close, and you never really know until you go and see it yourself.

“Even holes in the wall, little art shows, and contemporary art, definitely helped. Whenever I go to a museum I just want to go home and draw right away.”

In addition to drawing utensils being glued to her hand as a youngster, Doret grew up reading comic books.

“The art just drew me to it,” Doret said.

That helped shaped her career goal of being either a book or graphic novel illustrator or working for an animation studio.

As a soon-to-be third-year student in the School of Art’s illustration program, Doret is thrilled — just as she is on the softball field — with what she’s learned in the classroom. The freedom and honesty the department has given, she said, has been particularly valuable.

“I like how the professors encourage you to have your own, specific style — something that is unique to you,” she said. “I think that’s important in an artsy field.

“They are really helpful and honest. In art, you want to know how people perceive what you’re doing and how you can build it, work on it, and be a stronger artist. I really love it.”    

More of Doret's work is showcased on her website.