Hope everyone is having a great Fall so far and it is somewhat cooling off in your part of the country. I’m usually more of a warm weather girl but I think after training in this Oklahoma weather I’m ready for it to cool off a bit!
Just a few updates on everything in the shortest way I can. August was a pretty busy softball month finishing off the summer on a high note with not only Team USA but I got to rejoin USSSA Pride for the first time this season.
The first two weeks of August we were in Lima, Peru where we competed in the Pan American Games and won the Gold Medal. It was my first time being in a Spanish speaking country in eight years so I was able to catch up on my high school Spanish a bit (I took Cherokee in college :D). I’m not going to lie, the first day the only words that came to my head were Japanese words after having lived in Japan on and off for the past 5 years. It was a great experience finding ways to communicate with the Spanish we could remember. We also got to try out the Peruvian food. Our team leader Cheryl Bond sent us to Peru with a couple boxes full of Chick-fil-a sauce to help out our bland meat choices. Good looking out Cheryl!
From Peru I flew straight to Chicago to meet up with USSSA Pride to compete for the NPF Championship. I was nervous because I hadn’t been with the Pride for the entire summer but they welcomed me back with open arms and it was like we (Kirsti Merritt, Shelby Pendley and I) had never left. I knew most of the team from the previous seasons and most of the newcomers happened to be Sooners that I had helped coach this past year at OU. It was a fun few days and we were able to capture the Cowles Cup once again before the Pride announced they would be parting ways with the NPF. While we are still unsure of their future we know their goal has always and will always stay the same. Grow the game at all levels. USSSA has consistently succeeded at that and I am excited to see how much more they will continue to grow the game in this new journey!
Having the opportunity to finish the summer with Japan Cup was great. We got to train a few days in Iwakuni (near Hiroshima) at the Marine Corp base before heading up to Takasaki (near Tokyo) to compete. This is the second year we have trained at Iwakuni and the city is a tremendous host in helping helping us relax and train the best way possible. The Japan Cup championship game ended up on my 28th birthday making that my seventh birthday in a row spent in Japan! Never did I think I would spend seven birthdays in Japan but it was exciting to celebrate it with my American teammates this time and winning a championship over Team Japan for the last game against them until the Olympic games.
Coming home from Japan gave me one month of training for the Olympic trials that happened during the first week of October. With this hot Oklahoma weather this September, training was a grind. And I loved it, wouldn’t have it any other way! In the mornings, Sydney Romero and I would train with the OU softball strength coach, Sam Carter. In the afternoons we were able to workout with the OU softball team during practices and from there I would head straight to pitching lessons. It was a busy month leading up to tryouts but it was a fun process.
Now onto Team USA trials, one of the biggest challenges any of us have ever endured and boy was it the toughest USA tryouts I had ever been apart of. It was challenging physically but mostly mentally with all of the emotions that lead up to this event. It was somehow scary and exciting all at the same time.
When the list came out in an email after tryouts and I found my name on the list of the 18 athlete Olympic roster as one of the alternates, the emotions that came through me were hard to describe. Tears came down my face both bummed I wasn’t on the 15 man roster but also tears of gratitude that I am still apart of the team. I have gotten the question the past week countless times, ‘What does an alternate do?’ An alternate is basically apart of the team the entire time up until the Olympic games. It will be an 18 man roster throughout the entire Olympic tour from January through July and once the team goes to Tokyo for the Olympic games I will then be in the stands with the other two alternates. We would fill in for someone in the Olympic games that gets injured or sick if that may be the case. Of course the dream is to play on the Olympic field for your country but ultimately my goal is the same as every one of my USA teammates: Get a gold medal for our country. Preparation is the biggest part of reaching our goals and to be apart of that process gives me one more huge reason to be a grateful American!
Besides playing softball, I have been taking it easy since trials trying to let my body recover from season before getting ready for training and trials next year. I have been giving lessons in the Oklahoma area in both Norman and Oklahoma City and it has been so much fun getting to hang out and talk pitching with my girls! Sometimes parents will thank me for what little impact I have on their daughter but little do they know the impact their daughters are having on me. The process of pitching has always been a grind but it can be fun along the way and it has been refreshing being able to share that with younger softball players that aren’t just my teammates. I’ll be heading home to Northern California to do a clinic with my USA teammates in Sacramento and a few group lessons in San Jose and then I’ll be back here in Oklahoma getting ready for the holidays and pitching with my girls again.
If you hung in there until the end of this lengthy blog, thank you! I’ll start keeping you all more up to date as we get into the Olympic tour!