Team USA Olympian Jennifer McFalls answers my 10 Questions.
Written by Gary Leland
Olympic Gold Medalist (2000)
Position: Utility – R/R
Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas
School: Texas A&M
Jennifer McFalls Answers My Ten Questions:
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I was around 7 or 8 years old when I started playing fastpitch softball. I had a great league I played with in Grand Prairie until I was about 12. Then moved to a select time out of Irving, the only place with travel ball at the time.
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. Really the most special person is probably my grandmother, she was an athlete and I spent alot of time with her growing up. My mom had two younger brothers so I also spent time watching them play ball. I spent alot of time practicing softball everyday with my grandmother. And not just softball, she taught me to be an athlete. I was pretty well rounded.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. I was always kind of a quiet athlete, I wasn't much of a cheerleader. But I was more focused on being in tune with what I needed, mental prep and music. Music always fired me up before a game.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. I was playing another sport. I was playing something all the time competing. If I wasn't on the field I was at home playing cards with my grandmother or games with my mom. I was competing all the time doing something.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. Number 1, I had tremendous family support. I was taught at a young age to be my very best at everything I did, that nothing came easy and I had to work for what I got. I was taught hard work pays off. I think that carried over to my mentality on the field as an athlete. I was blessed, and when I went to the Olympics 12 of my family members were able to be there. To me that was kind of my reward.
Q. Did you have any routines or superstitions before or in a game?
A. I'm really thankful I was never really superstitious, cause then I think if something goes wrong, mentally your screwed. I tried really hard not to get caught up in that.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. No Doubt, the first time I played in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The feeling of playing for my teammates and the sport. And representing the United States on Team USA.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. I think it is a huge part of how you perform. You can have all the skills in the world but if your not mentally tough to be able to overcome. Mistakes, challenges, and might get caught up in adversity. For us its about being able to get to the next pitch wether your on offense or defense if you make a mistake. It's about having a quick reset button in your head and having the mental toughness to say if I make a mistake I want the next ball hit to me so I can get past it.
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. My greatest obstacle to overcome was wanting immediate, quick success. As an athlete sometimes you think that if I just keep working and working I'll get it. And thats not always the case.
You have to be creative, especially as a coach. I've learned trying to relate your message to players differently. Get in their heads and teach differently. What I think works for me doesn't always work for them. Have to learn to instill the confidence in them that hey we can figure this out let's get on the same page.
Q. What is life after being a softball player for you?
A. I miss the competitive spirit on the field. The Grind. An athlete everyday being out there just going for it leaving everything you have on the field. For me, that's probably why I love what I do as a coach. The spirit, and camaraderie mainly with people I work with the other coaches at University of Texas. I always love being part of a team.
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