Skylar Dutra is a fitting student-athlete from Mashpee High School to round out our class of 2020 Outside The Lines features. She wrapped around the school year as a field hockey and softball players and was one of the top performers on both of her teams. When it is time to finish up, always finish strong.
Skylar is the youngest daughter of Suzanne and Joseph Dutra. She said that US History and math were her favorite subjects in school. Her most-prized possession is a white gold ring that her grandfather made as a part of a set for her and her sisters, MacKenzie and Desiree.
“Just Mercy” is Skylar’s favorite movie and “All-American” is her favorite TV show. Florida-Georgia Line is her favorite band. Her go-to meal is her mom’s chicken broccoli Alfredo with extra Parmesan and a side of garlic bread. She said she’d chase it with some of her favorite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Half-Baked.
Skylar was the 2017 Rookie of the Year for the softball team, and an honor roll student. She said she really wishes that she could have had one more season on the field to help lead the Falcons to the state tournament. Everyone would agree that that would have been great.
How did you get involved with softball? How much do you enjoy it?
Well, the funny thing is I didn’t know anything about the sport until I asked my parents one day if I could try it out for the Town of Mashpee Rec team because my friends Maddie Souza, Sophie Schoonmaker, and Caroline Larsson were playing. Who knew I would turn out the way I did from this small game that ended up turning into my life. My coach at the time, Mr. Larsson, had so much faith in me and pushed me to be better. I was only about probably 10, but knowing that he thought I could be great one day made me push myself even more. That led me in the direction of playing summer softball with the Cape Cod Chaos team for my entire time at Mashpee Middle High School. Softball has truly had an impact on me and has helped me find who I am today, along with my high school Coach, Coach Alexis Charest.
What did you see your role being for the Lady Falcons during this spring season? What had you done to prepare for it?
In high school, you learn from the teams you play. You play the same team every year, you play the same players until they graduate, and you know how good each team is. My attitude throughout the years has changed going into each game. My mindset is that both teams are equal at the start, but the ending can’t always come in your favor. My plan for this year was to enforce this so they would understand. My role was going to be the starting third baseman, being the leader my team needed, being the captain my coach needed me to be, and help my team qualify for the tournament.
Third base can be an exciting position in softball since you have to defend against the bunt, but also can have line drives coming at you quickly. What’s it like to be on the hot corner, and how do you prepare yourself for the challenges?
Third base is definitely scary. I’ll tell you that. I’m the type of player not to be afraid of the ball and I think that’s what my coach wanted in her third baseman, so I tried it out. I realized that the “hot corner” was definitely my spot because I could do just about anything my coach asked. I soon learned to have quick feet and fast reflexes since balls can be hit straight at me doing like 50 mph. At practices there would not be a time when the Coach would take it easy on me and I obviously didn’t have a problem with it since I was only going to get better. She would do this drill called the “100 Ball Drill” where she would fire line drives at me from left, middle, and to right (with some occasional bunts in there), but that was tiring. If I’m being honest bunting has rubbed off on me a lot because we practiced so much with getting speed and staying low.
You also played field hockey for the Falcons over the years. How much did you enjoy that? How much did your game evolve over the course of your career?
I definitely was nervous my freshman year playing a new sport I didn’t know anything about, but luckily my older sister, MacKenzie, and my friend, Courtney Story, were playing at the time so I got a lot of help from them. I grew to love the sport, I truly did. It was so much fun but at that point, but I hated running. Luckily having the best field hockey coaches, Coach Menard and Coach Horan, they believed in me so much on how great I could be and it helped push myself to be the best for them. Over the years I saw how I evolved with skills and with speed, I stayed after practices to get extra time to improve myself, usually with Coach Horan. By my senior year I was said to be, “the glue that holds the middle of the field together for the Falcons. Dutra may be the team’s best all around player, with the ability to make big plays both offensively and defensively.” This is what my extra hours at practice were for, I needed to be the best midfielder my coach could ask for and I was.
Field hockey is a finesse sport, but you found your way to bring some physicality to it. How much of an edge do you think that you gained from being able to intimidate a bit in the midfield. How much of that was by design, and how much was just happenstance?
I don’t know if you’d call it an edge exactly, but it definitely helped being a more physical player on the field in the sense that I have no problem doing what I have to do to make the play or get where I need to on the field. My physicality is more of just who I am as a person and not entirely on purpose. My sisters and I grew up as more tomboys, playing in the mud, riding bikes over makeshift jumps and having our cousins all be boys, so we had to hold our own. I’m quite competitive to say the least, so when I compete I go all out to give my all and least it all out there. If that means I come off as more physical or intimidating on the field, than that’s just how I am.
How did you feel when you found out that your senior season would not be played?
Well, if I’m being honest, all of us senior athletes knew we weren’t going to have our season, we just didn’t want to admit it. I guess from my “unofficial” last day of school I didn’t want to believe that we weren’t going back. Obviously no teenager loves going to school, but now we got the best part of our senior year ripped away from us and we won’t ever get that back. When I found out that Governor Baker said we will not being going back to school I immediately went to my bathroom because I just couldn’t believe it, I started balling and it was even more upsetting seeing all my peers post on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter about all the memories we’ve made as a class and how we all won’t forget them. I realized that I would never get my senior season that Maddie Souza and I have been waiting for…I was devastated. I then texted her saying how I will forever cherish all the tears, sweat, stress, and joy we shared throughout our softball career and I wish her the best of luck at UMaine Farmington.
If you could replay one game that you have played in, which one would it be and why?
It would have to be back during my freshman year where we beat Rising Tide in the first round of the tournament and then we played West Bridgewater. It was probably one of the best games during my softball career, but definitely one of the hardest. I hit a bomb to the outfield which ended up being a triple for me. That got us ahead of the game, but one thing led to another. West Bridgewater just kept hitting home runs and we ended up losing 7-2. I think the toughest moment was all of us sitting in our circle waiting for our coach and we started to break down because as the coach walked over she was holding back her tears.
What do you consider the highlight of your athletic career so far?
Well, I don’t believe athletes have a highlight to their athletic career, but if I had to say something it would probably be hitting three home runs in high school. I remember the feeling I got from just seeing them go over the fence, the adrenaline I would get, and the feeling from my teammate when I would arrive at home plate.
Who is the best teammate that you’ve ever played with? What makes that person stand out?
There have been so many people I have played with throughout the years during high school and during summer, but one of the best teammates I’ve played with has to be Emma Wise. I got the opportunity to play both field hockey and softball with her. She has grown into being another older sister for me and we always can boost each other’s moods by just being goofy. She has truly impacted my life not only in athletics, but also in the outside life. I looked up to her in field hockey when she played center midfield and I knew I wanted that to be my spot when she graduated. She pushed me in ways no one ever has and always has and will be one of my best supporters. I got lucky with her living only a street down from me. During her senior year she changed her mind and decided to enlist in the Marines and I was shocked that she did that. I remember going to a training session with her and she told me that I can do this if I wanted to and don’t let anyone bring you down because women are just as strong as men.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?
I don’t really say I have any superstitions, but usually before either softball or field hockey games my coaches Kelli Horan or Alexis Charest would braid my hair because I get so sick of it flying in my face. Although I have learned multiple things from playing sports one of the most common things athletes say is to never give up. I am one who never gives up until the end of the game. One of my favorites quotes that represents me as an athlete is, “When you are not practicing, someone else is getting better.” And that quote is something I look at before games.
Who has been your inspiration?
It’s hard choosing just one person who has been my inspiration since I have so many who need to be recognized, but if I were to choose one it would have to be Dad. Ever since I was born I was a daddy’s girl and I always will be. I grew up as a tomboy and always hung out with the guys in my family because I love what they did whether it was tinkering with cars, motorcycles, or engines, I wanted to be around helping. My Dad was the first one to get me even touching a ball to throw and that was a baseball. You would see us in our street just playing catch and ever since then he has been my number one supporter at most of my sporting events. He would be trying to talk to me while I warm up at my softball games and would never understand that I can’t talk during games, but it didn’t stop him. I think that’s the best thing I love about my dad is that he never stops trying to help me in any way possible.
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
I would love to thank my parents, Suzanne and Joseph, for the endless love and support throughout not only my athletic career, but also pushing me academically to be the person I am today. You guys have made me into the strong, independent and responsible young lady I am today and I’m eternally grateful for such amazing parents. Throughout my time at MHS I’ve had the opportunity to meet amazing people whom I call my coaches, including Coach Menard, Coach Horan, Coach Villa, Coach Valentine, Coach Souza, and Coach Charest. I also would like to thank my forever teammates for being the best a captain could ask for. Lastly I would like to thank my boyfriend, Jared Barr, for the endless love and support throughout the time we have been together there has never been a dull moment. You all have truly brought so much into my life whether it was about helping with sports or something else. Thank you to the Mashpee Community for always supporting your children’s teams.
When quarantine life is over, what is the thing you are most looking forward to doing?
I’m most looking forward to not wearing a mask anymore to places like the beach, the store, or restaurants. When this is all over I’m hoping to go out to dinner with either my family, friends or boyfriend to get a meal.
What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?
I have definitely grown since my freshman year of high school. I have learned who to trust and keep in my life, along with letting the ones go if they don’t support me. I learned to do things on my own without anyone’s help and have started to understand this thing we call life. I have come to realize that we can’t dread the past, but we can only move on. To my freshman self, don’t rely on others to help you, only you can help yourself if you want to succeed and make something of your life.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
Honestly, I’m kind of an open book. There isn’t anyone in my life who doesn’t know who I really am, I’m not fake or don’t pretend to be someone else. I am who I am.
If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?
Although I love my own life and where I’m at right now, the one person I would love to switch with for day would have to be Michelle Obama. I wouldn’t switch places with her for what people think, I would switch with her because of the women she became throughout the years. I don’t care about the wealth. I’m amazed by how one woman can make such a difference in the world as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating.
Describe your idea of the perfect day.
Skylar’s perfect day… well it would have to be waking up on an early summer morning getting ready to go to Craigville Beach with my sister, friends and boyfriend, spending the entire day there. At night I would take my boyfriend up in my dad’s truck to the Wellfleet Drive-In and order pizza with snacks.
What are your post-high-school plans?
My plan for this coming fall is that I will be attending Westfield State University hoping to double major in Criminal Justice and Social Work, with the possibility of minoring in journalism. Along with this I have committed to play softball for Westfield State.
Where will you be in 10 years, and what will you be doing?
In 10 years, I am hoping to be working or being a part of the Innocence Project whether it is in Massachusetts or another state. The Innocence Project is a “501 nonprofit legal organization that is committed to exonerating individuals who it claims have been wrongly convicted through the use of DNA testing and to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” This has been something that I have been extremely passionate about for awhile now, not just because of the recent events that have been occurring, but I strongly believe that there are people out there who need justice and who have been wrongly accused of crimes they didn’t commit.