HomeCommunity NewsThe ‘Bilvado Bombs’: Sibling Sports Trio Lead on Field

The ‘Bilvado Bombs’: Sibling Sports Trio Lead on Field

In a recent nonleague San Marino High School softball game, freshman Madeline Bilvado took to the circle to pitch her first varsity game, a victory against Rio Hondo Prep in Arcadia.

In that same Feb. 27 contest, Titans senior Sophia Bilvado — Madeline’s sister — played catcher, serving as her battery partner for the first time in a high school setting.

Meanwhile, just miles away at SMHS, their brother, junior Tomás Bilvado, was in the middle of a nonleague baseball game against Foothill Tech in which the Titans came out victorious.

The day marked a special occasion: It was the first time the three Bilvado siblings all simultaneously played a varsity game in the springtime.

“It’s just a great family overall,” said San Marino baseball coach John Franklin of the Bilvados. “Obviously, full of athletes, but beyond that, their character and just the passion they have for each other and the community is great.”

Titans softball coach Scott Edmonds echoed the sentiment: “I love those kids,” said Edmonds, who has coached the Bilvado sisters on their travel ball team, the Orange County Batbusters, and whose son coached Tomás in baseball.

“They’re the best in the world. They’re great kids. It’s nice to have them. The whole family is the best.”

The three siblings have been entrenched in sports from an early age, starting with the eldest, Sophia, when her father, Brent Bivaldo, first introduced her to a soccer clinic at Elysian Park.

Brent and his wife, Erin Bivaldo, moved down from the Bay Area to Southern California in 2010 before the three kids started school. The family lived in Glendale at the time when Brent took Sophia to her first sporting event.

The dad of three, admittedly, was super eager to get his daughter into sports. However, it wasn’t all too fun for Sophia at a mere 4 years old.

“I just did not enjoy sports when I was younger,” Sophia said. “I was very young, but I just remembered hating it, and then once I saw Tomás playing, even though he’s younger than me, it made me want to do it a little more.”

When the family moved to San Marino, they quickly became active in the community in both the sports and education sectors.

“Once the kids started going to schools and getting involved, it gave us an opportunity to do more and understand the community,” Brent said. “Sports is so big and baseball is really big here in San Marino, so it was right up our alley, especially being big Dodger fans.”

Brent has served various roles in the executive board of the San Marino Little League and was president of the organization in 2022. He has also been president of the San Marino Community Athletics Association, which administers youth flag football, youth basketball and offseason, high school programs.

Photo courtesy Brent Bilvado / The Bilvado family, Brent, Sophia, Patrick, Madeline, Erin and Tomás with family friend Tucker, enjoying the holidays in 2022.

Needless to say, sports always surrounded the kids, including the youngest sibling, Patrick.

“We really believe in youth sports as part of the development for kids and that it’s a really healthy way to keep kids focused and busy and competing, sort of in mind, body and spirit,” Erin said. “Patrick has three older siblings to look up to and you can see the fire in his eyes even as an 11-year-old.

“For us that’s just been an important piece in how we’ve constructed our family life.”

Though Sophia strayed away from soccer at a young age, she returned to athletics after Tomás started playing T-ball when he was 6. Picking up a bat and glove, Sophia took a liking for the sport and proved to be much more athletic than her peers.

“I’m so, so glad that I was able to play those sports because it opens up a whole new realm to everything,” Sophia said. “Not that if you don’t play sports that it’s a bad thing, but I just think that being athletic is such a good side to have.”

Once Madeline was old enough to participate, she, too, joined in with her siblings’ activities. 

“By the time I started in Little League, all of my family was invested in it,” Madeline said. “It was the path they wanted to take. When I came into Little League, I just joined the path.”

Madeline enjoyed the competitive aspect of sports at a young age and looked up to her siblings, wanting to compete at the level they were at. Tomás thought the same about baseball.

“I like the competitive aspect of a team sport,” Tomás said. “It’s not just you. Your whole team has to come together and play well to win, so that’s what kind of drew me in. Every year, it kept getting more fun.”

The siblings also play other sports in high school. They started out in AYSO soccer, with the sisters continuing their soccer careers into middle and high school.

Most recently, Tomás joined the San Marino High varsity football team, while Sophia became a key player on the varsity girls’ soccer team. Madeline, meanwhile, was a member of the varsity girls’ volleyball team in her freshman year, and played on the junior varsity girls’ soccer team, while also getting invited to step up to the varsity squad every now and then.

The multisport lifestyle seemed to ultimately help the siblings thrive in their main sports of softball and baseball.

Photo by Sebastian Moore / San Marino High freshman Madeline Bilvado is a new member of the Titans varsity softball team, playing alongside older sister, Sophia, in her senior year.

For Madeline, her other sports taught her to “stay ahead of the game,” while Tomás said football has helped him improve his speed and agility. Sophia said the competitiveness in soccer helped her transition from one field to the next.

She also credits her parents for encouraging her and her siblings to play multiple sports.

“It allows you to figure out what you’re good at,” she said. “It’s kind of like school. You don’t know what you want to do in the future, so it’s just good to try everything out. At the end of the day, everything just comes together and it all works as one.”

Brent was not only involved in the administrative side of Little League. He was also out on the field, coaching Tomás until the boy turned 12.

He also served as an assistant to Edmonds on the OC Batbusters for two and a half years, helping coach his daughters on the traveling club team.

“He’s a great coach,” said Edmonds of Brent.

Before they were part of his high school team, Edmonds used to give hitting lessons to the Bilvado sisters. It was a full-circle moment for Edmonds when the sisters joined the varsity team, he said.

Madeline used to play with the older siblings, Edmonds said, because she was “that good.” The freshman’s strongest position is shortstop, but has adopted a pitching role entering high school.

“She was always a good player, but she, now, if she chose to, she could be a Division I shortstop in college,” Edmonds said. “She’s just a phenomenal player. She played two years up on my Batbusters team and she was a starting shortstop.”

Added Edmonds of Madeline: “We knew she was going to be coming here and we knew that the pitching needed help, so I started her pitching in friendlies with our Batbusters team just to start getting her experience. … She’s done well, for a kid who’s not a pitcher.”

Madeline’s experience with travel softball and club soccer has helped her become extremely competitive at the high school level, her older sister said.

“It has also made her a leader on the team even though she is one of the newest players,” Sophia said.

Photo by Sebastian Moore / San Marino High senior Sophia Bilvado is the school’s record holder in home runs, referred to as “Bilvado Bombs” by the Titans softball team.

Meanwhile, Sophia, a four-year varsity athlete, just recently broke the school’s record of softball home runs.

“I feel like that also pushed me to want to be a very impactful player, especially for my senior year,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, I remember telling myself that if I do break this record, then that’s amazing, and if I don’t, then that’s still fine because I just want to be able to contribute to my team in any way, shape or form, regardless of whether it’s defensively or offensively.”

The senior set the new mark in a nonleague victory over Alhambra on April 2, slugging two homers in the win for her 11th and 12th career home runs.

“I’ve always been more of a power hitter, and I never expected myself to be in that situation,” Sophia said. “I was very, very proud of myself and my coaches because I wouldn’t be there without them.

“This is something that not a lot of people get to experience and I’m very happy I’m able to experience it.”

With just a few games remaining in her career, Sophia boasts 66 RBIs in more than 64 games played as of April 9. Along with her school-record 12 home runs, she has 19 doubles, two triples and a total of 76 hits with a batting average of .432.

Last season, Sophia was selected to represent the Batbusters team and hit in the Home Run Derby of the Alliance Fastpitch National Championships, competing against the best sluggers in the country.

“Sophia’s home runs are always ‘Bilvado Bombs’ — no-doubters that everyone knows as soon as it leaves the bat, it’s out,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds has praised former Titans catchers who have come up through the ranks before, but the longtime coach said Sophia stands above the rest.

“Catchers don’t get much acknowledgement for their defense, so it’s great to see her [break the record],” he added.

As team captain, Edmonds said Sophia is like “another coach” on the team.

“She teaches, she inspires, she leads. She’s just outstanding. She’s everything you would want in a team captain. She picks up kids who are struggling and don’t feel good.”

Calling each other teammates is special for the Bilvado sisters, and it provides an added bond, Sophia said.

“I enjoy playing with her, especially when she’s pitching,” she said. “I feel like all siblings have an easier connection and bond, especially when they’re on the field together.”

Photo by Sebastian Moore / San Marino High junior Tomás Bilvado has been Titans’ ace this season, putting up a 0.76 ERA through 11 appearances on the year.

Similarly, Tomás entered the San Marino baseball program when he was a freshman, bouncing from the freshman-sophomore team to the junior varsity level as a pitcher.

It was also Franklin’s first year as the Titans varsity coach, and he quickly noticed the pitcher’s “naturally gifted arm.”

“He’s just a natural talent,” said Franklin, who heard nothing but praise of Tomás when he first became coach.

Added Franklin: “Come sophomore year, he definitely exceeded expectations.”

In his freshman year, his pitches topped 78 mph, according to the coach. His pitching velocity has since progressed about 3 to 5 mph each year. As a sophomore, Tomás reached the low 80s, and this year, he’s consistently reaching 85 and topping 87 here and there, Franklin said.

“He’s learning to pitch,” the coach said. “He’s not just a thrower, which he kind of was his freshman year and a little bit of his sophomore year, but he’s learning how valuable it is to hit spots, to execute pitches. Credit to him, he has faith in me calling the pitches. I don’t think he’s ever shook me off this year and I hope that gives him confidence.”

Serving as San Marino’s ace, Tomás has a 0.76 ERA through 11 appearances. As of April 9, the junior has pitched 55 innings, giving up 24 hits and nine runs. He also struck out 54 batters and walked 19 in that span.

“He’s very coachable,” said Franklin of Tomás. “He will ask questions, too, and it’s not like I have to ask him to do anything. It makes it really easy for me, especially since he’s been doing it his freshman year. You can see the improvements and strides he makes and we’re hopefully [teaching] him to be playing at the next level.”

The Bilvado siblings often provide feedback to one another following practice, games or film review. From hitting mechanics to other fundamentals, the three offer suggestions whenever they see fit.

“Softball and baseball have different mechanics, but they do also have many of the same mechanics,” Sophia said. “Sometimes we try to help each other out if we’re struggling with something.”

Added Tomás: “There will be times when I go play catch with Madeline or Sophia in the backyard and I’ll gas them up or I’ll try to throw it super hard. Just competitive.”

Photo courtesy Brent Bilvado / The Bilvado family, Tomás, Sophia, Madeline, Erin and Patrick, taking in the scenery while on a trip to Grand Teton National Park in 2018.

When the trio isn’t deeply involved in their athletics, they enjoy spending time together and look forward to their traditional trip to Lake Tahoe — one of the rare occasions the entire family has a break from a fast-paced life. The siblings also share many of the same friends, some of whom are also related, who are part of the same teams.

“It’s really united our families,” Erin said. “To see the freshman girls playing with their older sisters is really cool.”

With the three playing in different sports organizations, it was a real juggling act to drive them to vying events and practices, Erin and Brent acknowledged.

“It’s like conducting an orchestra,” Erin said. “That’s the best way to think about it. We just divide and conquer between the kids and the teams.

“I also think that being in a community where a lot of the support is local is really important. The kids can be more self-sufficient when it is down the street or at a local field and there are other families there supporting, too.”

Brent said carpooling was a key component in their sports travels as well. The two parents would often coordinate with others to hash out itineraries.

“There were a couple of families we got to know early that aren’t in San Marino, but they were in Covina or Temple City,” Brent said. “We could be like, ‘hey, do you think this Saturday, you can give Sophia a ride,’ and then ‘hey, I can bring them home.’ So, a lot of juggling. It was busy there, for sure.”

Although Sophia’s time at San Marino High is nearing its end, she will stay close by, choosing to attend Pasadena City College after graduation.

“I’m glad that when I’m still here for the next few years, I’ll be able to get to spend a lot more time with them,” she said. “I’m just trying to spend as much time I can with them with the time that I have left because after that, it’s off to the real world.”

The siblings said they are grateful for the doors that sports has opened for them, as well as the community support they’ve received through the years.

“I’m still very young, but I definitely think sports play a huge role to give you skills that will be really helpful for the future and careers,” Madeline said.

Sophia highlighted the siblings’ involvement and role in each sport, hoping that they have provided a positive influence along the way.

“Being a senior and being an upperclassman, for me personally, and I know Madeline still, I feel like we’ve made an impact on San Marino and I hope that kids look up to us,” Sophia said.

Brent shared the same sentiments.

“Hopefully, our kids … can be role models for those younger kids and to keep it going, just passing that baton for the next generation.”

First published in the April 11 issue of the San Marino Tribune


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