Veronica Wootson Ross, one of the best softball players to ever come out of Fontana, is receiving a huge honor this year: She will be inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame.
Wootson, who graduated from Fontana A.B. Miller High School, was a three-time All American who helped Florida State achieve great heights from 2004 to 2007.
She said she is very proud of the honor, saying it not only represents herself but also her mother, uncle, family, coaches, and her many teammates she had through the years.
"When I left for college I had dreams and goals, but being in the Hall of Fame has exceeded even the goals I had set for myself," she said. "I am proud I can leave a positive legacy for my kids and their kids to come."
She was a starter for all 273 games of her Florida State career, compiling a total of 282 hits, including 29 home runs, 137 RBI, and 79 stolen bases. She ranks in the FSU all-time Top 10 in 10 different categories, including doubles, triples, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage.
Wootson said she was very thankful for all the support she received while growing up in Fontana, starting with her mother, Tonie Johnson, who raised her as a single parent.
"She stressed academics first and was my biggest encourager," Wootson said. "My uncle (William Johnson) who was very involved and would take me and my cousin Ebony out for extra practice, was the one who introduced me to softball and basketball."
She said she also had some memorable coaches, including John Steele, Thom Masters, and Joann Baeten (the Miller coach), all of whom "in my opinion went above and beyond to teach, help, and inspire me a player."
Baeten was her coach all four years at Miller, and "I remember her always caring for her players," she said.
Wootson said she loved playing with her talented cousin Ebony Johnson. "It was always great to have someone to play catch with, race against and just talk to," she said.
"The great thing about Fontana was that there were many talented players. It was hard to be complacent as you always wanted to strive to be better simply because that's what was expected. It great to face and play with others who knew the game and played it well," she said.
After departing from Fontana, Wootson made an immediate impact at Florida State, helping to lead the Seminoles to a 2004 ACC championship while being named ACC Rookie of the Year and second team NFCA All-America. She was a member of the 2004 Women’s College World Series team that finished the season ranked No. 5 in the country.
FSU advanced to the NCAA postseason every season that she played, and made its first appearance in the NCAA Super Regional round in 2006.
She was named a first team All-American in 2006 and was selected to the third team in 2007. She is just one of four players in the history of FSU softball to be a three-time NFCA All-American during their career.
Wootson is still involved in softball today, giving lessons in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In 2014 and 2015, she coached at Cardinal Gibbons High School, and she was named the Coach of the Year for the 2015 season.
"I plan to continue to help young girls enhance their skills and knowledge of the game for many years to come," she said.