Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I almost forgot how much I loved playing for USA. This group of girls is amazing! Everyone clicks. You would've thought that we have been together for years when, in reality, its only been a few weeks.  It's definitely the most fun I've had playing softball in a really long time. With such a young team, we really mesh well and have a lot in common. Most of all, we HAVE FUN. This group definitely jokes around a lot and the mood is always pretty light.

One of my favorite parts: signing autographs for little kids. 

This group came together last year as a group of unknown players, mostly just out of college or still in college. The players before us: legends of the game; players who had built up the program to its' elite status; players who had created a tradition of excellence and dominance. That's like going 100 mph on the freeway just to slam your brakes and take a detour. The public had gotten so used to the familiar faces of USA Softball, of the greats, that when we came along, it was almost like a disappoint to them. For the entire last season, we were constantly asked if we were the JV Team or where was the "real" team, because we certainly weren't it. Of course, we had to smile and explain the other girls left to the professional league while pretending we didn't just take a shot to the gut.
The average age of the 2010 USA National Team was 25 years. Our team? 22. Though it may not seem like a small difference, it actually is a huge difference. Half of our team is either just graduated from college or still in college. The old team had only 1 girl still in college and 3 had just graduated. Along with the elevated average age, there were a couple players that were in their upper 20's. 2 of the girls had children. Granted we have 2 married girls on our team, none of us have children. Our oldest player is 28. The next oldest is 25. Our 2nd oldest girl would have been the average age on the old team. Ok, enough with the numbers......

My point is this team is YOUNG! We like to have fun and be goofy. Sorry, but a bunch of 22 year old girls are not going to be able to be serious all the time. Being light and having fun does not make us unprofessional. Yes, we are "professional" athletes (actually, we still are all amateurs) but that does not mean that we have to behave like robots. After our games, including the championship game, I was excited to come back and read congratulatory messages from fans. Sadly, that's not what I received. I received messages on Facebook and Twitter bashing our team and our "unprofessionalism." What I received were messages demanding for the return of the old team.
Now, I get that fans have the right to voice their opinions, since, without them, we would not be playing at this elite level. However, it's very deflating to play your heart out and finally get to live out your dream of wearing USA across your chest, only to be criticized and overlooked. I doubt anyone realizes how crushing it is for all of us to constantly receive messages or posts from people asking for the old players back. We have all the respect in the world for them and everything that they are doing to further the success of our sport in the professional world, but they are no longer on the team. They chose a different path than we did. They chose to leave the team for various reasons, the main of which was to help build up the National Pro Fastpitch League and provide the option of making softball into a career.
My amazing mother aka my support system/backbone/biggestfan
Many people don't know this, but the USA girls do not get paid. We receive per diem checks (money for food) and some money if we win the World Championships. The reasoning behind all the older girls leaving is completely understandable and, again, we fully respect their decisions. However, the girls on the team now chose to play for USA. We get that you want the older girls back. We understand that they were probably one of the first professional girls you saw play and became inspired by them. But, there was a time when you didn't know their names either. When Natasha Watley first started playing, you probably only knew her as the all-star from UCLA. When Lauren Lappin first started playing you were probably wondering who the young girl was who was hopping around different positions and on both sides of the plate. I'm just asking for people, fans of softball, to give this team a chance. No, we are not the same team as the team before us. But, who could be? Who is supposed to replace Jennie Finch, a woman who has given 200% to this sport, on and off the field? No one could possibly replace Crystal Bustos, or even come close to her power.
There was a time when you had no idea who these girls were. Give us a chance to become your favorite players, or at least prove that we belong on that field, before you criticize and judge us.
Something small that this team got beyond excited for: our names on our jerseys
We have been given the enormous opportunity to represent our country, Olympics or not. All of us grew up with the dream to one day play for the USA. Us getting to live our dream should not be ruined by fans constantly criticizing us. I promise you we will give 110% on the field. I promise you we will play with all of our heart and uphold the tradition of the dominant nature of USA Softball. Please, just give this group the chance to play and be great.