If you are a regular reader you know I started a new set of blog posts called 10 questions. On these blog posts I send 10 questions to great softball players, and coaches. Then I am posting the questions with their answers.
This week Professional Player Megan Jo Willis answers our 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland
A. I started playing softball when I was 9 years old
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. There are a few people, number one would be my father, Mike Willis. He is the one who taught me how to play catch. We would go out and play catch with a baseball all the time before even really knowing what softball was.
Then there was the Jones family. My best friend Lisa, is the one who brought me to my first softball game (and ASU game). Her father started the AZ Hotshots and her three older sisters all played in that organization…her and her dad invited me to play on the 10u team.
Then there was Ann Peterson, my private coach. She was the one who helped me transition into becoming a catcher!
Lastly, my final travel ball coach Tony Rico. He helped form my softball mind. He educated me on how to call a game, we both worked together more on catching and fine tuning some small things. Tony helped prepare me for college and taught me more about life then just softball.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. I don't have any specific routine. I don't get to excited, try to sleep in as long as possible. sometimes get a workout in, sometimes just make sure to get a big breakfast in (my favorite meal). I tend to put my uniform on the same on game days and always make sure to have a good music playlist…which changes daily.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. I love traveling! I have had the opportunity to travel to a few different countries over the past couple years and it has really opened my eyes! I have learned so much by living in another culture (Japan) and have realized that I want to see more. I want to learn more about how others live, what they believe in and how they get along from day to day. It's a big world and I have only seen just a small part of it.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. Determination and failure. I have always strived to be the best, but have never quite hit that mark in all aspects of the game. But its my determination that keeps me going. I set goals for myself all the time, sometimes I achieve them and sometimes I don't. If I don't, I reassess and then try again. If I do, then I continue on a new goal.
Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?
A. Not really.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. My Junior year at Texas. Super regionals against Washington. It was one of the best games of my life!! That atmosphere at Red and Charline McCombs field was like I have never seen before!
We were winning by quite a bit, we all knew we were going to the world series and I have never seen our team hit and play like we did that day! Tina Boutelle hit a 3 home run to put a big (for us) lead on the board. Then we tacked a few more on, then in the top of the 7th my best friend, Chez Seivers, and I hit back to back homeruns, right over our dads in left field.
It would be the last time I got to play at Texas with both Chez and Tine, and to go out like they did couldn't have been more special. Our dads were up on a decked out UT bus, celebrating the victory and spraying champagne everywhere. Our fans were going nuts, as were we! We were heading to the world series yet again!
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. Mental training is what changes an athlete from good to great!. This is when you are able to make adjustments on your own, trust in yourself that you know what you are doing and how to fix or not fix anything.
Its when you understand that you did everything right, yet you happen to hit the ball right at someone. You begin to build a very strong self confidence. I encourage everyone to work on their mental training, understanding there is more ways to get better then by taking 100 reps. You can video yourself, and watch and see where you may be able to make an adjustment to get faster, stronger or more accurate. You become your own coach.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?
A. To be honest I have no idea. I think I would like to still be a professional athlete of some sort. Maybe Beach Volleyball! You get to train on the beach, travel around the world, and have the chance to play in the Olympics!
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. Not listening to my critics. I have had many people over my career tell me I wasn't a good hitter. I was only where I was because of my catching abilities. On paper, that was one easy conclusion to make. However, I had to believe in not only myself but my coaches as well. They hadn't given up on me, which meant I couldn't either.
I was never an All American, yet I kept finding myself moving up in the softball world. It wasn't till my 2nd years in the NPF that I got over what everyone had to say about me and really started to understand that I could be a great hitter. Thats when I overcame my biggest obstacle. I decided to ask for help from my peers, I started to learn about hitting and how to create a great swing. I stopped listening to the negative and decided I had only one option…and that was to be better!
Still to this day, I am criticized…however I know that I have changed and I know that I have become the hitter I was always supposed to be.
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