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Jennie Finch Answers My Ten Questions

Jennie Finch

Photo Courtesy Of ASA/USA Softball

Olympian Jennie Finch Answers My Ten Questions Written By Gary Leland

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I was 5 years old. I have two older brothers who both played baseball and for me I wanted to be like them, so when I turned 5 my parents signed me up for tee ball and it was softball at the time. Unlike a lot of others I started out with softball. I fell in love with it and have been playing ever since.

Q.Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. I have to give credit to my dad. He was my backbone, he spent all of the time on the bucket catching me, and he developed the Finch Windmill, the shoulder exerciser I have been on since I was 12 years old, so I have to give him a lot of credit. He had a catchers mitt on one hand and a radar gun in the other and he pushed me all the way through. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, he made me practice when I didn’t want to practice and I’m so grateful. As hard and tough as he was, it never crossed the line to the point where I wasn’t into the game or didn’t like the game because of it. It was that fine balance of pushing, motivating, and driving me, but never did it affect my love of the game. I’m so grateful for him knowing where that line was, even though when I was that age I didn’t think he knew where that line was. Looking back now, he knew how far to push and he knew there was more in me and he knew how to get it out of me.

Q.How did you get ready for a game?

A. I’m an athlete who likes to stick with her routines. Basically just be consistent, lay low, do the same thing I did every single day. For me the preparation happened the week, the months, the year prior to, so when I did get that uniform on, it’s done, it’s go time, it’s game time. That, as an athlete, is where the confidence comes from, is that preparation; the blood, the sweat, and the tears, the hard work that you put in prior to putting that uniform on. When you get that uniform on, you’re confident, you’re ready to compete and trust what you have done and go out there and put your best foot forward.

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. I have 3 amazing, crazy little kids and I adore every second I get to spend with them. We live on a ranch and we just got cattle, there is always something going on out in the country. We love to go fishing. I love being outside and being active, and really with them anything is good.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. So many factors! Hard work, dedication, many, many sacrifices, and that was one of my biggest reasons for writing my book, “Throw Like A Girl”, was because everyone sees the trophies, the medals, they see all of the lime light stuff. They don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears, the heartache, the disappointments, the losses, the failure, that I had to experience and go through to help shape and build the athlete and the character that I was. Going through those hard times made me stronger.

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. Where do I begin, I’m a pitcher! Yeah, for me I like to recite Philippians 4:13 before every pitch, that started my junior year of college. I put my uniform on the same way. My roommate, Toni Mascarenas, and I would spray our uniforms with perfume before we left for the game. I had a spot for my bag, my glove, at Arizona it was the end of the dugout and that was my spot, and I wanted it to be in the same spot every time. You learn who has the superstitions, who has the routines and you kind of follow those. You ride them until you have to switch it up, then you have a new one.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. How do you pick one? So many, winning a National Championship with the University of Arizona. We had 8 seniors that year, and to send them out with a championship was such a thrill. Then playing for the national team, nothing greater than wearing USA across your chest competing for your country. At the top would be winning gold in Athens with Lisa Fernandez, Laura Berg, Lori Harrigan, Leah O’Brian-Amico, who I looked up to. I was in their autograph line 8 years prior to. To be able to play with the women I looked up to was such a thrill for me, and to do it in Athens, Greece, where it all started was great.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. The mind is your most powerful tool. Young athletes think it’s their hands, their legs, all of these things, but it all starts with the mind. You have to believe. If you think you are going to fail, you are going to fail, so it’s a matter of fighting that negative voice within you. I played for 24 years and still to this day I still have this doubter, this negative voice within my head and you have to battle it, you have to knock it down as soon as it comes in. You have to trust your hard work, your preparation, and go for it. I think for me to be mentally tough, it took for me to work and train and build that preparation because that was my foundation. I knew that I was ready and I had prepared in every way that I possibly could, so when I had that uniform on, I was ready. Ultimately I could live with the outcome because I gave everything I had and I think that is where you want to be. It starts with the preparation and building off of that, then you become confident. There will be times where it’s like, “whose right arm is this”, but you just have to ride it. Like Coach Candrea says, don’t get too high and don’t get too low. This game will take you through the highs and lows if you let it, but it’s a game of consistency and average and it’s a matter of plugging away.

Q.What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. I would say staying mentally tough. I think every single day we can give in with our bodies and our minds or we can fight against it and continually strive to be better. It’s a matter of every day turning that good to great. We can have a good day or have a great day and that’s our decision. Especially with three kids now there are some challenging days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s about controlling what you can control and being the best you. That’s one of my favorite sayings. I just heard the other day “your greatest competition is in the mirror” and that’s so true. It’s how far are you willing to push, how far are you willing to go, and how good do you really want to be.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. I would love to work at a zoo, I love animals so just to be around animals. But, you know I am so blessed I don’t think that I would trade it. This life has been more than I possibly could imagine and by the Grace of God, it’s been such a thrill so I’m blessed, extremely blessed. With my family now, I get to experience the same memories I share with my parents now with them. It’s a good life that’s for sure.

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Dani Tyler Answers My Ten Questions

Dani TylerOlympian Dani Tyler answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland

1996 Gold Medalist
Height: 5’6″
Position: Infield – R/R
Hometown: River Forest, Illinois
School: Drake University
Graduation: 1997

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I was very fortunate to grow up on a block with a lot of kids (mainly boys) around my age. We started playing pickup baseball games in our front and back yards around Age 4.

Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. As with anything in life, I believe that success comes from surrounding yourself with a great support system of family and friends. I credit the kids on my block that I grew up with in starting my love for the game. I credit all of my teammates and coaches along the way from High School to Summer Ball to College to the Olympic/National Team for helping me grow and develop as a player. Most importantly, I credit my parents for instilling in me the values of how to be a good teammate, and more importantly a good person..for helping me learn that the game is just a “game” and that what really matters most is that you give 100% percent effort in practice and in games and that you always treat your coaches, teammates, opponents and the umpires with respect. In the end, what people really remember most about you and your career, is not your batting average or how many wins and losses you had, but how you treated them and others along the way.

Q. How do you get ready for a game?

A. I had 2 songs that I would always listen to on the bus ride to the field 1) Lionel Richie “Destiny” and 2) Sister Hazel “All For You”. I found that both of these songs had a great cadence and/or rhythm to them that could help me really visualize fielding ground balls. I could actually “feel” smoothly fielding a ground ball and making the throw when listening to these songs. I kept my playlist a “secret” for a few years (for obvious reasons), until one of my teammates on the Olympic/National Team (MV) listened to my CD Player when I wasn’t looking… (boy, that makes me feel “old” just saying that…CD player, not IPod).. Anyway..As you can imagine, I took a little “heat” for that. It is kind of embarrassing when your teammates are listening to Metallica and Jay-Z to pump up for a game while I am listening to Lionel Richie..but hey, whatever works, right?

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. When I changed careers in the year 2000 from my Olympic/National Team softball career to my next career in Public Accounting, I really developed a love for Golf and Running.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. My parents have been the strongest influence in my life. As I have gotten older, it has developed into even more appreciation and respect. It wasn’t until later in my life that I truly realized the tremendous sacrifices and the amount of time that my parents put in to helping me grow as an athlete and as a person. I hope that I can eventually become half the person that both of my parents are. If I can ever accomplish that, I will know that I have truly accomplished something amazing in my life.

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. I had a few superstitions/routines when I played..in college, I would put a green M&M under my lip before I would go up to the plate to hit. I believe that routine started by mistake early in my career..I did it one time and I happened to hit a homerun during that at bat, so I continued doing that same routine throughout my college career. During my Olympic career, I always made sure I was chewing gum when I was on defense. I think it relaxed me and calmed me between pitches before it was time to zone in and refocus for the next pitch.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. My favorite softball memory was the gold medal ceremony in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympic games. Watching our American flag being raised, listening the National anthem play, and standing alongside some of the most incredible women/teammates that I have ever had the pleasure to play with was an amazing feeling that I will never forget. Even to this day, whenever I am at a sporting event or I hear the National anthem play and see our American flag being raised, my mind always go back to that special day in Atlanta.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. I have always felt that so much of the game depends on your mental mindset when you walk onto the field. Getting this mindset starts way before the first pitch of the game. The BEST days are when you walk onto the field at game time and you know everything is clicking..a zone, if you will. When you run onto the field for defense, and you KNOW nothing is going to get past you today. When you step into that batters box you have a have the confidence that you are going to touch and drill any ball that comes at you today. When you have those feelings of confidence on game day, that’s when you know it is going to be one “exciting day at the ball park’. I have found that to obtain that type of zone or confidence, you need to KNOW that you have done the “work” in practice and on your own personal time. Confidence comes from hard work, practice, repetition, drills and a lot of sweat. When you have put in that kind of work, you should be able to step on to the field on game day, and you should not be thinking at all, you are just naturally reacting and playing the game with that feeling of confidence because you know that anything that comes at you today, you have already done a million times before.

Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. The greatest obstacle that I had to overcome was choosing to stop playing the game that I loved so much and move into a career outside of softball. I still love the game. I always will. It has given me so many memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. The game of softball teaches you so many things about yourself and about life. You learn that you can always work harder and push farther than you ever imagined was possible. You learn that by working together as a team, you can accomplish amazing things, way more than you could ever accomplish alone. The game makes you laugh and it makes you cry. It’s the best game in the world and the people who have touched my life along the way throughout my career are some of the most amazing people on earth. I am very thankful for all that the game has given to me.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. I currently work at a Certified Public Accounting firm in Chicago (Bansley and Kiener, LLP). I have worked at Bansley and Kiener, LLP for over 15yrs. My fellow Partners and our amazing employees are my teammates now. I feel truly honored to work with such an incredible group of people. If I “had to” choose another career, I would either be a college history professor (that wealth of knowledge about history would make you a great conversationalist) or I would be a high school teacher and teach personal finance (as I strongly believe that high school students should receive more guidance about how credit cards work and loans and how important saving for retirement is at an early age, etc..).

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Softball Could Return To Olympics in 2020

2020 Olympics

“Softball Could Return To Olympics in 2020″ Written By Bill Plummer

It appears that softball could possibly return to the Olympics following recent changes made by the IOC. The changes include removing the cap of 28 sports, which would mean an events-based program and allow for more new competitions while staying at around 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events.

Host cities will be allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more additional events, and 2020 host Japan is hoping to add baseball and softball. Softball was first contested in the Olympics in 1996 then again in 2000, and 2004 before being taken off the program following the 2008 Olympics. The USA won three gold medals before settling for a silver in the 2008 Olympics with Japan winning the gold.

Softball and baseball are extremely popular in Japan and, according to Reuters, the IOC will likely approve the addition, possibly at the IOC scheduled meeting in July.

The probable decision could come earlier. Yoshiro Mori, president of Tokyo2020, said he expects Tokyo2020 will present its plans for staging the Games in a report to the IOC in February. The Wall St Journal predicted that, in addition to softball and baseball, Tokyo2020 might include squash and karate.

Skateboarding and racketball have been supported for 2024.
“It is not sure for baseball and softball, because most other federations are against this,” Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer International Sports Federations, told several Italian journalists.

The World Baseball Softball Federation reacted with predictable joy.
“Today, there is there is great hope that our athletes will now have a real opportunity — the pinnacle and highest honour in our sport — to play for their country, aiming to win an Olympic gold medal,” WBSF President Riccardo Fraccari said in a statement.

If softball does get back on the program, it behooves the ISF, the WBSF and the ASA to work together to ensure everything is in place if this becomes a reality. Players 13 and 14 now would be members of the softball team and possibly some younger members of the current USA National Team. Tryouts would have to be held, etc, plus the naming of a coaching staff and who knows what else to ensure a smooth transition back into the Olympics. Softball should never been taken off the program in the first place, but politics reared its ugly head and did an un-justice to a sport that didn’t deserve it in the first place.

If Toyko gets to have baseball and softball back on the Olympic program, you can be assured that the attendance at both disciplines will be excellent considering the popularity of the two sports in Japan, and especially since the Japan women’s team is the No. 1 team in the world currently. What better place to show off the No. 1 team in the world than in front of a hometown crowd. The 1996 USA Olympic Team can attest to that when Olympic softball made its debut at Golden Park in Columbus, GA, drawing crowds in excess of 8,700.

The debut of softball was as spectacular a debut as anyone could imagine for an Olympic sport and of course playing it in the USA guaranteed sellout crowds with eight teams competing. The USA won the first-ever gold medal, defeating China, 3-1, in the Gold medal game with each team getting four hits. The USA scored all its run in the third inning and USA shortstop Dr. Dot Richardson, now the head softball coach at Liberty University, went two-for-three with two RBI including a home run. Michele Granger and Lisa Fernandez combined to pitch the Gold medal game with Granger going five and two-thirds innings, striking out eight. Fernandez finished the game and fanned three batters, allowing no hits.

Christa Williams Answers My Ten Questions

Christa Williams Answers My Ten Questions

Photo Courtesy Of ASA/USA Softball

Olympian Christa Williams answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2000)
Height: 5’7″
Position: Pitcher – R/R
Hometown: Houston, Texas
School: Texas
Graduation: 1999

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I started playing ball when I was 8 years old. Things are much different now. We used the fall to perfect our mechanics so that we were ready to play at a high level. Also, tournaments almost all had winners and very few exposures.

Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. I would say my dad was my biggest influence on my success. He caught me every day and was my coach. He knew my flaws both on and off the field and always found a way to motivate me to practice when I didn’t want to.

Q. How do you get ready for a game?

A. I typically just relax listen to music and focus on the upcoming game and visualize the pitches that I needed to throw.

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. When I am not involved with softball I just enjoy watching other sports and spending time with my family. I have never been that person that has to be busy all the time to be happy.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. I would say my dad was my biggest influence. I always hated to lose and still do. I loved to do what people told me I couldn’t do which can work for and against you at times. I love the competition the thrill of executing the perfect pitch against a great hitter in a tough situation.

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. I typically eat the same items and or go through the same warm up routine as far as throwing, throwing partners same music placing my bag in a certain place.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. My favorite softball memory is winning the gold medal in both the 96 and 00 Olympics. Obviously winning is nice, but I loved it because of all the hard work paying off and standing higher than everyone else with our national anthem playing and knowing that everything that we had gone through both as a team and individuals was worth all of the sacrifices.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. Mental training is super important. I wish that while I was playing there was more emphasis on it. There was enough towards the end of my career for me to realize how critical it is to have your mind right in order to perform at the highest level possible.

Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. There are several obstacles that I faced as a player. When I made the US team at such a young age I didn’t know how to deal with the pressure or the emotions and I didn’t always handle things the correct way. The pressure to be perfect was always there and at times I rebelled because I got tired of that feeling. I finally met a coach that helped me deal with the internal pressures. As a coach my biggest challenge is getting my players to overcome their fears and put everything on the line every time. Along the same lines is that its about the TEAM first and you second.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. I wish I could have been a professional baseball player so that I could have played the sport I loved and done this as a job. Seeing that it is not a possibility to do this I would say that I am doing what I love to do which is coaching kids and trying to help other young ladies reach their dreams.

A FEW ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2000)
Two-time ISF World Champion (1995, 1998)

EXPERIENCE

2000: Gold medalist at Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia
1999: Gold medalist at U.S. Olympic Cup
– Pitched a complete game shutout against Australia in Championship Game
1998: Gold medalist at ISF World Championships
– Went 1-0 with 0.00 ERA and 17 strikeouts
1996: Gold medalist at Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia
– Went 2-0 with 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts
1995: Gold medalist at ISF Junior Women’s World Championship
– Went 6-0 with tournament-high 86 strikeouts
1994: Gold medalist at Pan American Games Qualifier
– Threw perfect game and no-hitter
– Finished with 3-0 record, 0.00 ERA and 45 strikeouts

AT TEXAS

Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and NCAA Regional Tournament MVP (1998)
Two-time NCAA All-American
Helped lead Texas to 1998 NCAA WCWS
GETTING TO KNOW WILLIAMS

Recipient of the “Mary Lou Retton Rising Star Award” in 1995
Two-time ASA Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Champion (1996, 1997)
Born on February 8, 1978

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How to Separate Sport And Family

How to Separate Sport And Family

“How to Separate Sport and Family” Written By Keri Casas

This may not be something every parent thinks about, but it is completely necessary to understand why and how a separate relationship for sports and home life is important to every female athlete.
 
Why Separate Sport and Family?

As a parent, you want to be involved in your daughter’s life; be supportive, encouraging, and a mentor.  When your female athlete is young, they will listen to you, take your advice, and let you teach them the basic things about the game.  The issue with teaching, or coaching, your daughter is that they tend to grow independent with age.  When female athletes mature into their sport, they want to listen to their coaches or private instructors, those who have played the game.  And even if you played the sport when you were younger, techniques and styles have changed.  Remember that female athletes tend to be a little more defiant towards their mom or dad trying to teach them than a male athlete.  There is nothing wrong with helping your athlete reach their athletic goals, but it is important to take notice when to step down as their “coach”.

Female athletes strive to learn from others than their parents simply because you’re their parent.  If they have the opportunity to learn from a female coach or private instructor, they have a mentor to look up to; someone that they can work with that doesn’t tell them to clean their room or be home by six.  They have your structure and guidance at home, but let them explore other options when it comes to their sport.

I know it is difficult to let someone else coach your daughter, but it is necessary to divide sport and family.  I have seen countless exceptional athletes give up on their dreams of collegiate softball because their parent was too involved in their sport.  I have seen too many dads coach their daughter to a breaking point where the sport was just not fun anymore.  Aside from that, I have seen families torn apart and parents lose their relationships with their daughter because of constant interference with their sport.   As a parent, you don’t want to be the reason why your daughter gave up and quit something they love.  And most of all, you don’ want to lose your daughter.
 
How to Separate Sport and Family?
 
As I mentioned before, you want to be involved in your daughter’s life by being supportive and encouraging.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that; your female athlete needs your support in her athletic endeavors.  So how do you stay supportive without interfering?  Don’t give your advice unless she asks for your advice.

After a game, let your athlete talk and share her thoughts about what happened.  This way, you can listen to your daughter’s feelings and ideas without your feelings and ideas conflicting.  Let your daughter know you are proud of her no matter what and have her back 100%.  Female athletes need a sense of security and they need to be able to feel that they can open up about a game or their team to someone.  This is a perfect role for you as the parent; you want your athlete to be able to talk to you and your athlete wants to be heard knowing you aren’t going to critique her.  A female athlete wants you to be their parent, not a coach.

It may be difficult to step aside as a “parent-coach” because you want the best for your daughter, but realizing that the best for your daughter is for you to watch her from the stands is essential in her athletic growth and your parent-daughter relationship.

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Danielle Henderson Answers My Ten Questions

Olympian Danielle Henderson Answers My Ten Questions Written By Gary Leland

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I was in the 3rd grade when I started playing softball. I was 15yrs old when I first learned how to pitch

Q.Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. I feel that everyone that has ever coached me has helped me get to where I am today. If my travel coach Kim Gwydir didn’t teach me how to pitch I never would have went to UMass. Playing with the Brakettes I had the opportunity to work with John Stratton who taught me how to move the ball

Q.How did you get ready for a game?

A. I try to treat everything like a normal day. I try to keep the routine the same for practice as I would for a game

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. I am obsessed with HGTV so when I have time off I am either doing some wood working or home renovations. I also enjoy going on long walks with my dog.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. I feel like my failures have influenced me the most. Every time I have failed at something the journey of getting back has taught me so much. It teaches you how to fight thru things and never settle

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. never wanted any superstitions. Didn’t want to feel like some outside force had any impact on the result of my play

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. There seems like so many to choose from but the one that sticks out the most is one of the first ones. It was the first time we went to the WCWS. We were in the losers bracket and because of rain the day before we would have to win 3 games in 1 day to go. I pitched all 3 games and the energy from the crowd is what kept me going.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. It is such an important part of the game, it will determine whether or not you succeed. There are a ton of great books out there to help improve on this area. You need to use it every day so it becomes part of your routine. Like anything else you do you have to practice it to get better at it

Q.What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. Not doing as well as I would have liked after college. I lost all confidence and was feeling pretty bad about myself. It took years to get back to were I was mentally which affected me physically. I learned a lot during that time period and now it helps me to be a better coach. Being thru the highs and lows helps you relate to more athletes and help the ones before they reach that same point.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. Have my own show on HGTV or DIY network.

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5 Great Training Aids For Fastpitch Softball Pitchers

5 Great Training Aids For Fastpitch Softball Pitchers Written By Gary Leland

tightspin1. Spintech Tightspin Trainer

In fastpitch pitching, spin is everything. The tighter the spin, the more violent the break and the more movement it has. Every pitcher should use this pitching aid! The Spintech Tightspin Trainer allows pitchers to practice spins with resistance, making her wrist stronger and her movement even better!

CLICK HERE to improve your pitching!

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strikezonemat2. Strike Zone Mat

A truly portable home plate! The Strike Zone Mat is a home plate with three colored zones. The green areas are the ideal places to throw, the yellow areas are not the best place to throw a pitch, and the red is an area you NEVER want to hit. Add this mat into your pitching routine and you will see the plate differently.

CLICK HERE to improve your pitching!

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SPINNER_YELLOW3. Spin Right Spinner

Not sure if the ball has the correct rotation when you pitch? The Spin Right Softball Spinner is exactly what you are looking for. If you are not spinning the ball correctly, this disk will wobble and tumble instead of rotating and breaking. It comes with instructions that show how to hold the Spinner to get maximum results.

CLICK HERE to improve your pitching!

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windmill trainer4. Windmill Trainer aka Perfect Circle

Are you new to pitching and are not sure when to release the ball? The Perfect Circle is the training aid for you! It comes with a DVD explaining exactly how to use this aid properly. After a few sessions with the Perfect Circle, you will be building positive muscle memory and consistency in your motion.

CLICK HERE to improve your pitching!

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Ambrosa Ball5. Christie Ambrosia Ball

Have you ever wanted to pitch like an Olympian? Now you can at least learn the grips from one! The Christie Ambrosia Ball is an 11” softball with finger prints that show where the pitcher should hold the ball for certain pitches. It comes with a booklet explaining each color and has both left and right handed fingerprints.

CLICK HERE to improve your pitching!

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Tairia Flowers Answers My Ten Questions

Tairia Flowers Olympian Tairia Flowers answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I was probably about 9 or 10 when I started playing softball.

Q.Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. I would say multiple people. Neither one of my parents really knew softball so they pushed me to go all out if I was going to play. My dad was the work ethic. My mom was the “are you having fun, make sure you enjoy it, you did great (whether I did or not)” person for me. I also had several great coaches throughout my career.

Q.How did you get ready for a game?

A. I don’t think I was super specific in a routine. I just want to get my reps in before game time

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. Now I spend a lot of time with my kids and I kind of like being lazy. I spent a lot of time travelling and playing games so now it’s nice just staying around the house with my family and watching movies.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. I was never the most gifted so I was always taught to work. For me and softball and coaching, I always talk about doing extra, give 100% all of the time. Even if you are sick and only have 80% to give, give 100% of that 80%

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. I would write my jersey number in the ground and I would shake and stretch before stepping in the box, but otherwise didn’t have any superstitions.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. Being a part of Team USA in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and winning the Gold medal in 2004.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. I think it’s huge. If you can’t figure out mentally where you want to be or what you want to accomplish, you’re lost out there.

Q.What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. As a player, not being as naturally talented so I had to work longer and harder than everyone else to end up where I did. As a coach, I have been my entire career at mid-majors so you’re not always working with the most talented athletes.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. I’m doing what I love in both aspects, in coaching and being a mom.

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Dr. Dot Richardson Answers My Ten Questions

Dr. Dot Richardson Answers My Ten Questions Olympian Dot Richardson answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I was 10 years old when I started playing softball because I was playing catch with my brother one day and a little league coach saw me throw, came over and asked me to play on his team. He said I would have to disguise myself as a boy and call me “Bob”. As much as I wanted it, I said, “Sir, thank you but no thank you if I have to hide who I am then I don’t want to play”. I walked over to another field and was playing catch with a friend of mine when a fastpitch softball coach came over. She brought me onto the field and gave me a few ground balls, then asked if I wanted to play for her team, the Union Park Jets. The average age of that team was 22 and I was only 10, but my parents said yes, so that’s when my fastpitch softball career started.

Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. There is always someone special in my life, first and foremost is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I could see Him working in my life from a young age, feeling the Holy Spirit and the joy of life. Through my mom and my dad I saw what it was like to serve others. I felt that God had given me a gift in athletics because it always felt so natural and I felt so alive doing it, whether it was bouncing, kicking, hitting, or diving for a ball, just feeling alive in what you do. When you feel that passion, you know it’s a God given gift and be ready to seize those opportunities. The influence I have had from Him and my parents is something that I always take with me in everything I do.

Q. How do you get ready for a game?

A. I get ready for a game first mentally. Mentally be able to visualize it and to feel it within my body to become one with the ball. Visualize moving faster than I did the last time, being able to see the ball off the barrel of my bat and feel what that feels like. Then in preparation on the field, as soon as I put my cleats on I am in a whole other world; nothing else exists except for being one with that ball.

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. When I am not involved with softball, I like to influence the lives of others as much as I can in positive ways. If I have a chance to speak to others to give motivation, hopefully inspiration but obviously as a physician to impact the lives of those in the health care field, to be able to be the executive director of a national training center to open opportunities, to have a not for profit with FPX athletics, to impact young girls and women in sport, to serve under Former President George Bush as vice chair in the president’s council of physical fitness and sport, to be able to live life to the fullest and let everyone know how special they are because they are an amazing gift to the world.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. Without a doubt my belief in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Realizing that we are on Earth for a short time in this eternity and what we need to do is to show Him in all that we say and do. I take that with me and try to use it in learning the life lessons He has meant for me to learn.

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. More routines than superstitions. I always put my left shoe on first, maybe just because it felt more natural. I would double tie the bow in my shoelace because I tripped on it when I was really young. There were times when I played in tournaments and ate peanut butter cookies before the game and felt awesome on the field so I kept that routine around. Really I just feel that since being a young girl denied me the chance to play sport drove me to seize the moment and any chance I have to play to the fullest and be all in.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. I have several favorite softball memories. First and foremost was after winning the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal. In celebration we were all on the field and there were security guards preventing anyone from getting on the field. I remember looking up and reaching out to the fans and I saw a boy and a girl standing together trying to reach over the railings to share in the Olympic gold medal moment. It hit me that these Olympic Games in ’96 was a moment that I felt that the world started recognizing the gifts that God had given each and every athlete no matter what gender they are. That boys and girls and men and women alike can enjoy athletic talent no matter whether it is participated by a girl or a woman or a boy or a man.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. I place an extreme amount of value on the mental part of the game. People throw that around to say “mental toughness” but the reality is can you mentally put yourself in a state where you can visualize it to the point where when you execute it, you can feel like you are living the dream, that you have been there before, almost like a déjà vu. It’s a talent to do that. When I talk to young players and ask them if they can visualize it, they can’t and you need to. For all of those reading, you need to be able to visualize in your life where you see yourself going, what you want to experience, how you want to see that plan of action be, and trust that God is going to have you in your life prosper, then you will feel like you are living the dream . I actually wrote a book called “Living the Dream”, and it was really about that, to be able to visualize it and to dream about it and believe it to the point where you achieve it.

Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. The greatest obstacle in my life, without a doubt, is that girls were denied the opportunity to play sport when I was a young girl, just dreaming about the opportunity to be able to express what God has given me on the field. Looking out and seeing boys being allowed to play and girls were not. The boys had no problem with me, in fact they picked me first for their pick up teams after school. Society made it a rule that girls could not play. When Title IX came into effect in 1972, it was an amendment to the constitution giving us all the opportunity regardless of race or gender, that anyone could have the opportunity to express their gifts. There was a huge change in girls and women in sport from then all the way to today and it has been spectacular. I have been very blessed to be a part of that evolution.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. I have been very blessed in my life to have a number of careers. Everything from being one of the elite athletes in the world achieving the Olympic gold moments, to the NCAA Player of the Decade for the 1980’s and a NCAA champion in sport, to becoming a physician (I’m an orthopedic surgeon), to be able to experience the fun of playing golf as an athlete, and to be able to now be a head coach, to be on boards like the FPX athletic board, to impact the girls and women in sport, to be on the board of the Fellowship of Christian Athlete softball ministry. I just think that as much as we can do to make a difference it the world for the time that we are here, we need to do it and love every minute of it.

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My Top 5 Backpacks For Softball And Baseball

MY Top 5 Backpacks For Softball And Baseball Written By Gary Leland

Louisville Slugger EBS714-SP Series 7 Stick Pack1. Louisville Slugger Series 7 Stickpack

If color is what you’re looking for, look no further. The Louisville Slugger Series 7 Stickpack comes in 9 bright colors. It holds up to 4 bats, has a vented outer compartment for a batting helmet, features a hard outer pocket for any valuables, and can hook to any fence with ease.

CLICK HERE for more info or to order!

Easton Walk-Off II Bat Pack 2. Easton Walk-Off II Batpack

Perfect for players and coaches alike, the Easton Walk-Off II has plenty of room everything they will need. This bag comes in 6 colors, can hold up to 2 bats, has a vented outer pocket for a batting helmet, and a large center compartment. It also has a small zippered pocket to hold valuables and a padded laptop sleeve.

CLICK HERE for more info or to order!

DeMarini VooDoo Paradox Backpack3. DeMarini Voodoo Paradox

Dirty and smelly cleats finally have a place of their own in the DeMarini Voodoo Paradox! This bat pack has a vented cleat compartment on the bottom of the bag so all of the mess stays away from the rest of your player’s equipment. It features two bat sleeves. The Voodoo Paradox comes in 8 popular team colors and has a generous center compartment.

CLICK HERE for more info or to order!

Mizuno Organizer G3 Batpack4. Mizuno Organizer G3

This Mizuno bat pack has a pocket and compartment for everything you need for a big tournament. It features a shoe compartment, large center pocket, two outer pockets, fence hooks, and comes in 8 vibrant colors. The Organizer G3 can hold up to 2 bats, which are secured in a mesh pocket with a drawstring closure.

CLICK HERE for more info or to order!

Louisville Slugger EBS914-SP Series 9 Stick Pack 5. Louisville Slugger Series 9 Stickpack

This bag is massive! Louisville Slugger took everything that was great about the Series 7 stickpack and made it even better. The Series 9 batpack not only has a huge center compartment, but also holds 4 bats in zippered sleeves and an expandable bottom compartment for a glove, cleats, or whatever you want to keep separate from the rest of your equipment.

CLICK HERE for more info or to order!

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Dionna Harris Answers My Ten Questions

Dionna Harris Answers My Ten Questions Olympian Dionna Harris answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I started playing softball when I was 9 years old with Stanton-Newport Little League in Wilmington, DE.

Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. My greatest influence in my life has always been my Dad…he was not an athlete, but he always believed in me & dreams & always told me to never go through life with regrets.

Q. How do you get ready for a game?

A. I used a lot of visualization and meditation techniques when I played. I listened to a tape that helped me get to a comfortable, relaxed place and practiced visualization.

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. When I finished w/ softball, I went back and received my masters degree in counseling and I have been counseling students with disabilities for the past 18 yrs. For fun, I do a lot of hiking and camping at National Parks.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. The influences that affected me the most were my ability to set goals, determination to achieve them, and perseverance to overcome any obstacles that may have gotten in the way. I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with positive people who believed in me and pushed me along if I needed a little pushing.

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. When I played, I never touched the field lines. I also used visualization tapes and wore a bear necklace that a friend had given me that symbolized looking within yourself for answers.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. My favorite softball memory by far is standing on the Gold Medal stand and hearing our National Anthem played.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. I hold mental training in the highest regard. Coaches always stated that hitting was 20% mechanics and 80% mental and I never understood why so many people spend so much time on the 20% lol. I would recommend players learning techniques to control the mental part of hitting and incorporate them into their daily practice routines.

Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. I think the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was growing up in Delaware and being the first one in my family to go to a four year college. I was always putting myself in situations where I would get exposure and learn from the softball greats, and rarely passed up an opportunity to try something or learn something new.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. I have to say that I am doing what I believe I was intended to do…..school counselor for students with disabilities.

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