LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth Games is a family tradition for the O’Daniel father-daughter duo.
“I‘m here for the fireworks, she’s here to represent for her softball team,” Matt O’Daniel said. He is the assistant Fire Marshal for the Lynchburg fire department. He’s in charge of overseeing the fireworks and lighting of the cauldron during the opening ceremonies, “I’ve been here, since they brought it to Lynchburg, I think 4 years.”
His daughter, Mattie, is a star pitcher who will be starting high school in the fall at Brookville.
“I think the first year she did it, they had a softball practice and I was here preparing for the fireworks,” O’Daniel said. And since then, they’ve been able to watch each other perfect their craft.
“I like to watch him learn,” Mattie said. “I’ve always thought about going into the office and stuff.”
“It’s fun. We get to work together I guess, I think it gives her an opportunity to meet people, do interviews, meet former olympians, and see behind the scenes how things are run,” Matt added.
Having the games this year despite a pandemic has done a lot for the athletes and their families, “It brings back a little normalcy to our lives," Matt said.
But the memories the O’Daniels are making there, means a lot more than wins or losses.
“Me and my dad really work together a lot,” Mattie said. “He helps me with pitching, he always catches me, stays on me about working hard, it’s just nice.”