3-Time Olympian Lisa Fernandez answers my 10 Questions. Written by Gary Leland
Olympic Gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004)
Hometown: Long Beach, California.
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I started playing softball when I was 7 years old, for the little miss softball fastpitch association. Prior to that it was just sports clinic and rec ball.
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. My parents were instrumental in my career. My Father is cuban and played semi-pro baseball over there. And my Mother grew up playing slowpitch. So I was always around the game.
As I continued to grow and develop, I'd have to say Dot Richardson. She really took me to the next level. I played with her on the Brakettes, and the Nationals team. We were teammates since the early 90's.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. I'm so superstitious its crazy, from when I get up to what I eat to how I get dressed to what I watch on TV. Whatever makes me feel like I'm going to have that extra edge against my opponents.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. Well before having children, back in the day competing was the priority, so anything that was low key. Reading books, going to movies, relaxing spending time with friends and family.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. Physically I don't think I'm different than anyone else, but from what people have said it's my mentality. I've been blessed with some physical skills, but I have pushed myself farther than most would go. To me I have a growth mindset, its about learning and maturing, and growing. Failure is nothing more than a way to inspire me to become better.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. Of course, everyone might say the championships and the medals, but for me it was the loses. I remember some heartbreaking loses that made the biggest impact on my career. I found the inner message within each one, that helped me learn what I needed to know.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. I think mental preparation is huge. I think visualization is huge. I think that's what seperates the good from the great. Physically all these athletes are talented but it's really the mentality thats going to show who's going to get the job done under pressure. What do you do when no one's watching?
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. Probably the biggest obstacle was when I was maybe 13, I was told I would never be able to pitch because my arms weren't long enough that I wasn't built for it. Yet once again my parents were very instrumental in teaching me work ethic and that I better make up for those differences in my mental toughness. How hard was I willing to work to be able to be the best that I can be.
Q. What is life after softball for you?
A. I'm still in it! The game is in my blood, I'm coaching at UCLA and I can't see myself doing anything else.
Q. What was it like coming back to your Alma Mater as a coach at UCLA?
A. Well I think that's many players dreams. There was a reason why I picked UCLA as a recruit. To me it's the greatest institution that provides both academic excellence, and the ability to take you to the next level physically with athletic excellence. The bruin family has done so much for me, I've always been able to hit up the “405” and there I've got a place I'm welcomed with open arms.
The 2015 WCWS has been so rewarding. It's been an honor to be here as a coach to help these students reach for their dreams.
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