This week 1996 Olympian Michele Granger answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I started playing softball in the third grade I was a right handed shortstop which was fun, but then they realized I was actually left handed….
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. My father is the ultimate competitor and he was the person that taught me how to train and be ready for competition, my mom taught me that sports is only on part of a person. Between the two I got the drive to always win and the ability to leave the competition on the field.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. Before a competition I made sure that I was prepared in advance and then took the day off right before the game. I had no special “pre game” routine for the day of competition.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. I like to read, go on long walks, cook and play games
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. I think the way you grow up and the people that surround you have a huge impact on the type of player that you become. I also learned from every coach and athlete around me…I liked to pick my favorite characteristic of other athletes and incorporate it into my play.
Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?
A. No routines or superstitions which I think is a huge benefit when you have travel for competitions
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. I have a few “favorites” but one softball memory that is special is the very first pitch I threw in the Olympic games in 1996. I remember very clearly stepping on the pitching rubber and deciding I was going to throw the ball as hard as I could right down the middle, I was pregnant at the time and I whispered to my daughter “suck it up kiddo mom needs all her energy to throw this one pitch hard” I knew the first pitch would set the tone for the game and it did…It was a hard fastball called strike.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. Mental training really came naturally to me…I never really understood its importance until I realized it did not come automatically to all athletes. I really think controlling emotions and feeling prepared is the best was a to be successful in sports. I never really had a fear of failure and I just did the best I could on every pitch I threw and then knew I would not regret the outcome. Athletes that fear failure with ultimately fail when the pressure is on…my favorite part of the game was always when the pressure was on those competitive moments were always the most fun. When I was little sometimes I would walk the bases loaded on purpose just to see if I could get out of it with out letting a run cross the plate, it used to drive my dad nuts.
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. The greatest obstacle I had to overcome was to understand that each player is different and each person is responsible for their own training and effort. I could not as a player and I can't as a coach make a athlete put in the time and effort to be their 100%. I have heard many players say they want to be the best, but very few are willing to put in the work to actually become the best.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?
A. After softball I did some college coaching and some color commentating but after the birth of my fourth child I stayed home to raise them. Now that they are getting older 17,16,14,12 I decided it is time for me to start a career and I went to Pastry school and I am not in the process of building a baking business.
I would love to go back and do some color commentating it was so much fun, but I have a much wider range of Knowledge now and I think I would bring a unique view because along with playing I have coached at just about every level (high school, JC, college, travel ball) ..Plus doing the commentating would still allow me time to get my bakery going.
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