Transitioning into College Life

Written by freshman oufielder Alaina Montgomery

As a college freshman playing a Division I sport, I face challenge on a daily basis. Balancing the demands of my academic schedule with athletic practices has been more arduous than I anticipated. In a short time, I have come to realize, hard work and discipline does come with rewards.  

 

Like an average college student, I go to class, complete reading assignments, do homework and write papers, but I also train at various times throughout the day. Required freshman study hours and tutoring sessions complete my schedule. With all of this, getting enough sleep can be challenging. As the semester has progressed, I have learned to make adjustments to my routine which has relieved some of the pressure I feel due to my full schedule. Forgoing social activities on the weekends in favor of completing assignments in advance and extra studying has created peer pressure. Understanding priorities and knowing that my individual goals are my focus and most important to me has kept me line.

 

The rewarding aspect of college for me has been the way our softball training has sharpened my athletic skills. Coach Mac has put together a rigorous practice schedule that includes running, weight lifting, yoga, speed and agility, individual training and team play. With this level of training I am in the ultimate physical condition of my softball career to date as probably all my teammates are. This level of athleticism of our team should have an immediate impact on the upcoming season.

Overcoming Challenges

Written by junior infielder Lexi Gifford

My junior year has been nothing short of another challenging experience for myself and the team.  There have been a lot of changes, and with change comes the challenge and adjustment.  I have learned change never gets easier, no matter what the context or circumstances.   This year, as a team, we have accepted every challenge and in a brief period of time learned to step outside of our own comfort zone both on and off the field.

The University of Connecticut has one of the top exercise science programs in the country.  I was pumped when I heard the news that I was accepted into the kinesiology program!  Little did I know that getting into the program was the easy part. The real challenge is now trying to stay ahead.  I have had to work harder than I ever have academically.  Every class I am in is extremely important for my future.   I have no room to slack off because I realize there is more at stake than just a GPA; it’s my future, my career.

For me and the team, challenge doesn’t stop in the classroom. Coach Mac has split the year up into 7 different phases.  Phase 1 was “commit,” we used this portion of the season to buy into what the coaches were doing and learn to adjust to all the changes. With the new look, practices and workouts were difficult, but as a team we pushed through and made major improvements.  Currently, we are in the middle of phase 2, which is titled “laced up.” I have never been very good at tying shoes so when I heard this phase was called laced up, I knew I was in for a challenge.  I was right.  These past few weeks we have worked harder than we ever thought we could.  This phase pushes us to the brink both physically and mentally. We are pushing our bodies to limits we didn’t even know we could reach, and the next day we go a little further. But with any challenge comes growth. I know for a fact that I am getting faster, stronger, and mentally tougher. Now I can even run up to the third floor and not sound like I’m having an asthma attack when I walk into class!

College itself is a challenge. As a student athlete, life is like a balancing act.  I have learned in order to improve and succeed in school, softball, and life I have to be challenged.  And learning to accept and adjust to every challenge is what helps me and my team get better and closer to reaching our goals.  This applies to everything; school, softball, your job, cooking, dancing, and lastly tying your shoes.

Adapting to Change

Written by junior outfielder Alyssa Gardea 

My past two years here at UConn have been quite an experience.  Leaving California, moving across the country for school was a huge adjustment.  It helped me become independent and find out who I truly am.  I have experienced multiple changes in the classroom and on the softball field. This year, in regards to the softball program, Coach Mac said from day one, “we are all sponges, we are all here to learn things from each other, some things may be different or we may not be used to it, but we are here to adapt and create a championship program.”

With new coaches, it is similar to experiencing my freshman year all over again.  Knowing that the coaches do not know my capabilities has made me work harder than ever.  The most unreal thing is that I realize I only have two years left, and I feel like I haven’t come close to accomplishing the goals I have set for myself.  I know I have so much potential and room to get better, but only two years left to do so.

Our coaches bring the term ‘fun’ to a whole other level. Being able to enjoy practice yet still get a lot of aspects to the game covered makes me excited to go to practice. Coach Mac emphasizes the word ‘GET TO’ all the time. We GET TO go to practice, we GET TO hit today, we GET TO practice and play the game we love every single day. Everyone besides the freshmen know what a struggle it has been and know we want the absolute best for our seniors and those who will graduate after them. We have realized how blessed we truly are, because most people do not use the phrase ‘GET TO’ in the honoring way that we do.

Fall ball was all about adjusting and adapting as a team.  I am adapting by learning to be accountable to for myself and my teammates.  Learning to hold each other accountable shows that you not only want it for yourself, but more importantly you want it for your teammates.  I want nothing more than for my teammates to know that I want them to get better every day.  I have COMMITTED to this team; giving every bit I have every day.  Even if I feel I only have 80% that day, I give 100% of that 80%. Adapting as a junior, I have learned to change gears as quick as I can and that not giving your all will not be an excuse. Ending fall ball about a week ago, adapting isn’t the vocabulary anymore.  As a team we know the expectations: to raise the standards.

Commit

Written by senior infielder Emily O’Donnell

Howard Schultz once said, “When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

This fall, the UConn softball team made a commitment to not only ourselves, but to our coaches and teammates, that we were going to be all in and in the wise words of Coach Mac we would “Get after it” each and everyday. Whether it was getting dirty on the field, doing two or three extra sprints even when we did not think we had any gas left in the tank, or challenging ourselves in the weight room. We knew doing these things was going to be integral to the success of our team.

After the first full week of team practice I think it is safe to say everyone was exhausted. This was an eye opener that we were going to be pushed harder than we had ever been before. In order to reach and achieve things we never have before, we needed to train and prepare harder and smarter. Day-by-day at practice we saw improvement and this had everyone pumped up to finally get on the field against an opponent. We were ready to see the result of all the hard work and we knew as a team we had a lot to be excited about.

The first fall ball weekend finally rolled around and we were all ready to take the field with UConn across our chests and represent our program and school and show everyone why we were so excited to play. Mother Nature unfortunately, had plans of her own. We blasted music and took team selfies in the locker room waiting for word to report to the field but sadly it never came; our games had to be canceled due to inclement field conditions. We were all bummed but that made us even hungrier the following weekend when we finally got to play. We won both our games our first weekend out and we did a lot of good things and we took away some valuable knowledge on areas where we can continue to improve. Our final fall ball weekend we faced some tougher competition. We fought hard against Boston College and Maine but dropped two games in a row. We would not accept anything less than going out with a win in our final fall ball game. We pushed a run across late in the game and had stellar pitching and defense to end the fall ball season on a high note.  After the games, our wonderful parents threw us a tailgate and if there is one thing this team loves more than softball it is probably eating, so there were many smiling faces and full stomachs.

As we begin to enter the next phase of our year, which will consist mostly of individuals, weights, and conditioning, we will continue to commit ourselves to this team and the goals that we share. I am beyond excited to see what this team will be able to achieve come spring when we are back on the field competing again. Until then we will be getting after it in everything we do. Go Huskies!

What I wish I knew as a freshman

The UCONN coaching staff recently asked our three seniors what they wish they knew as freshman.

Audrey Grinnell:

Top 5 Things I Wish I Knew As a Freshman

Freshmen year can be a whirlwind of excitement; new people, places, and experiences await.  Now that I am a senior, there are a few things that I wish I had known as a freshman that might’ve made my journey through my first year of college a little bit easier.  So, here are those top five things:                      5. Absolutely avoid 8am classes at ALL costs. Coming right out of high school I know it seems like waking up early for an 8am class isn’t a big deal.  It is.  Avoid taking 8am classes if you can.  Your body will definitely need the extra sleep and time to adjust to the busy schedule here.  If you are brave enough to enroll in an 8am class, do NOT skip it.  It may seem extremely tempting to stay in bed until your next class, do not give in to the temptation.  Take your classes seriously and study hard.  Set yourself up on the right path with good grades instead of getting behind and trying to dig yourself a hole that you are constantly attempting to get out of.4.  The Freshmen 15 is NOT a joke.  Listen, I know everyone has heard the phrase “freshmen 15”.  For those of you that haven’t, it’s a phrase that means YOU ARE DOOMED.  Just kidding, but really, eating cookies and cream ice cream at the dining hall after every meal is NOT okay (I know this from personal experience).  Think twice about ordering Insomnia Cookies every night.  This also holds true for DP Dough, Wings Over Storrs, Sergeant Pepperoni, and Husky Pizza.   It WILL come back to haunt you…you have been warned..3. Coach Kimball won’t actually kill you.  As you may or may not know, Amanda Kimball is our conditioning coach.  It’s a common misconception that you will actually die during conditioning.  I am proof that that is indeed false.  I’m in my senior year and I am fortunately, still kickin’.  Workouts will be challenging and no doubt you may consider breaking your legs or running into oncoming traffic as you take the dreaded walk to Shenkman; DON’T DO IT!  You will survive!  And as a famous Kelly Clarkson once said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.2. Treat your points at the Student Union Like Gold.  I know it is super exciting to have points that you can swipe at the Student Union, but beware they are NOT unlimited.  Think twice about swiping your husky card three times a day at the Union.  You will end up with zero points by the end of the semester.  And those long nights that you are studying at CPIA for finals, you will want to have those points; trust me.Here we are at number one.  By far the most important thing you will EVER learn…

1. Your 4 years of college will go by like the blink of an eye.  I remember my freshmen year, sitting at our softball banquet in the fall.  We had two alumni step up to the podium to give a speech.  It was emotionally charged as they stood there and told my freshmen class to be prepared for how quickly your years here will go by.  One day you are falling asleep in North West and the next you are waking up in Charter Oak.  Cherish the time you have here.  You have been blessed with an amazing opportunity to be a part of a family tradition here at UCONN that others would die for.  Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, because you will wake up one day and realize you no longer have those opportunities.  Take pictures, share laughs, and make lifelong friendships.  Stay true to yourself and take pride in being a University of Connecticut Husky.  Lastly, enjoy the journey because you will never experience anything like this in your life again.GO HUSKIES!

Madeline Schiappa:

What I wish I knew as a freshmen

So the best way for me to answer this question is to imagine myself with the ability to time travel (yea pretty dorky I know). If I were able to travel in time to my younger self and provide advice, I would obviously tell myself things I wish I knew as a freshmen that I know now. Some of these things are softball related and some are not. So I am going to answer this question in a speech directed towards my past self.

“Hey there! I am yourself from the future! And yes apparently we have time travel. I am here to give you advice that will help you over the years; things I now know that I wish I knew at your age. There are a lot of things I have learned over the years and I have the opportunity to now tell them to you so you may skip the learning process and excel even further than I did. I think the most important thing you should know is that confidence is the key to everything. It is so important in softball and life to have some amount of confidence. Without it, you will fail to accomplish anything. Being timid and frightened will get you know where. This idea also comes to play with trying to impress people. I want you to learn to find confidence in yourself rather than through others. The reality is people are not 100% reliable. People will not always be where you are at all times. You, however, will always be with you, so finding the confidence from within you will be more sustainable and stronger. So stop trying spending so much time worrying about people and instead worry about yourself and what you can do to make the team better. You are probably wondering how do I do that? Well there are several tasks I have learned over the years to improve confidence. One is hard work and practice. If it were not for the extra work, extra reps and extra studying, I would have had very little progress in my athletic and academic performance. Secondly, instead of finding confidence in past accomplishments and relationships, find confidence in your future through opportunity. When you depend on your accomplishments or relationships in the past, it limits your future. The past fades and the past is stagnant. If you see opportunities as a challenge you can accomplish, you gain confidence every time you reach that accomplishment. It serves as a perpetuated cycle of building confidence for as long as you continue to find opportunities and work to achieve them. It is also ok to not accomplish achievements from every opportunity. It is the idea that you then find more opportunities that you work towards and at least some you will be able to accomplish and use. As a freshmen, I know it is hard to have this confidence. You are in a new area with new people, playing a whole new level of softball, studying a whole new level of work. You are going to miss home, you are going to miss your friends, and you may even wish to leave. But no matter what, if you stay confident, if you understand that those feelings are only a phase in life, you will be much happier and more successful. So push a little harder than I did, study a little earlier, practice a little more and you will have the confidence to do anything. The confidence you can ace those tests. The confidence to feel like you can make this team better. The confidence to be a part of a team. The confidence to help this team win games. The confidence that you as a person has the ability to accomplish anything you set your mind to. [Jumps into the DeLorean and races into the distance]”

As I travel back to the future thinking how Yoda of me was that to give such awesome advice, I think back on how much I have changed over the years, and although I wish I could tell myself these things, I would have never have learned them without not knowing them in the first place. That is life. Lessons come from experience and not from someone in the future telling you how to live your life. So the most important thing I would consider re-doing as a freshmen, is not being afraid of having those experiences. Those experiences made me who I am today. Softball, school, this team has made me a more confident human being and my advice to all freshmen is that it won’t be easy, but that is OK. You will come out of this with experiences that will shape you forever, but it is what you make out of those experiences that can change your fate. You cannot run away from change. You must take the change, take the adversity and make it your own. College is not only about fun, transcripts and winning games, it is also about learning who you are and becoming someone you want to be in the future.

Katelyn Callahan:

Things I wish I knew as a freshman….hmmmm. Well the freshmen 15 is pretty much a guaranteed, it’s going to happen whether you like it or not, dining hall food is just too inviting. Yes, it is okay to eat 5 slices of pizza, two ice cream cones and that delicious looking cookie, you’ll work it off at practice, okay, no you won’t but it’s easier to tell yourself that. Don’t get upset when the shorts you wore in August are ridiculously tight come spring or that your arms are now tight in all your long sleeved shirts, it’s a sign of winter workouts. Don’t put off the work you have time to do now because you’re lazy, you’ll be even lazier tomorrow but tomorrow you’ll be stressed as well. Figure out a way to organize your life and all the work you have to do before we start traveling and playing games, you’ll thank yourself later. Studying in airports, on planes and in hotels all suck but it has to happen. Don’t spend all your per diem on Starbucks, although inviting and seemingly necessary, it’s not. Bring snacks everywhere you go, whether it’s to class, on a plane or to a game. There’s an 85% chance your GPA will drop during spring, for me it’s a 100% chance but some people are different, so don’t freak out too much. The grades you get your first couple of semesters will make or break you… trust me I’m still feeling the effects of this, so work your butt off while you have the time. Although it will be really tempting, do not skip anymore classes than you’re already missing in spring, we miss a lot of class and it’s hard enough to keep up with that as it is. Make friends with other athletes and even RK’s, it’s fun to see how the other side lives and there will always be a time you need a favor. The breakfast sandwiches at the co-op are probably the best breakfast sandwich you’ll ever eat, even if you don’t like breakfast you have to try it once. I prefer the sausage, egg and cheese on croissant, croissants are a must. Take a walk around campus and explore the places you don’t really notice or see every day, this campus has so much history behind it, it’s intriguing to check it out. Oriental restaurant and all you can eat at Wooster are must tries; I wish I had heard about them sooner. Take time and go to the top of Horsebarn Hill it is absolutely gorgeous and a perfect place to escape from the world when necessary, plus there’s cows. Buses are extremely useful yet kind of annoying, learn which ones take you where and life will get easier. Don’t do what I did my freshman year and just get on any random bus in hopes it’ll take you where you want to go, it won’t. Hotel shampoo and conditioner suck… bring your own when traveling. Always be ready for those pants optional situations, spandex are a lifesaver. Ice baths are very helpful but NEVER forget your booties, your toes will thank you. You don’t and won’t have the time to read all the things your professor’s assign, learn the art of skimming. Last but definitely not least, enjoy the dorms; they maybe seem sucky but they are the most fun you’ll ever have, make friends with people in the hall and keep in touch with them, the friendships you make your freshman year will stay with you all four years.

 

Preseason ~By: Kim Silva #15

ImageWell… Here we are again. Pre-season. This time of year means long days, sore bodies and a whole lot of sweat. It will be important to push through the fatigue and stress that preseason inevitably brings to test our limits and help us to be stronger athletes mentally and physically. We have two weeks to prepare for our season. For me, they are the two weeks before my last season as a UConn Husky begins. Two weeks until I play in my last ‘first game of the season’. Two weeks until we leave for my last team trips to Florida. Two and half weeks until we, as a team, begin our journey to the Big East Tournament.

According to the Big East preseason polls however, we won’t ever make it there. We are predicted to finish ninth overall in the Big East this year meaning we wouldn’t qualify for the Big East Championship in Tampa. These polls are calculated from coaches votes based on how our season went last year, the seniors that graduated and who is returning.  These votes do not take into consideration the extremely talented freshmen class that arrived on UConn’s campus in August. These votes do not take into consideration the countless hours our team has spent working together to become a cohesive unit. They do not consider our senior class that wants to make the absolute most of our last season together. And they do not take into consideration the talent that has grown over the last year, the drive within this team to accomplish our goals or the determination we have to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. 

What the Big East can’t see in any box score or on any stat sheet is what will set us apart from our competition this year. We, as a team, know that we are talented, determined and invested in making this season successful. We have set our goals high and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish those goals. Every day we strive to be better, faster and stronger than the day before. We will leave it all on the field and prove that we are a force to be reckoned with in this conference.

 

Remembering Our Beloved Scrub, Peter Looney ~By: Kim Silva #15

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In my first few months at UConn, I only ran into Coach Looney a few times.  He worked closely with the pitchers and catchers but wasn’t around every day at practice (as a 1.5 hour commute on the Mass Pike stood in his way.)  However, once preseason and season started, he became another voice of knowledge and experience day in and day out.

You could always count on coach Looney for a story, a joke or simply a smile.  With his immense understanding of the game, he could help no matter what kind of situation you found yourself in. Whether it was pitch count, base running, game strategy or random rules and regulations; Looney knew it all.  Coach Looney was a person that always stressed the importance of a team’s communication and togetherness.  He reiterated time and time again that an individual’s decisions and actions on the field can affect the entire course of a game.

In my first tournament as a Husky, I was playing third base in a close game against Minnesota at Florida Gulf Coast.  In an early inning, I let a ball drop in foul territory that I should have caught.  In my mind, it was just one more strike for the batter. It turns out that this would not be the case. That same batter, later in the at-bat, got a base hit and ended up scoring what would turn out to be the go ahead run. Upon entering the dugout after the inning, I got an earful from Coach Looney.  To this day, I remember that play and how much Coach Looney instilled in me that night that every single decision I make in a game will affect my teammates and our success somehow, in either a negative or positive manner.  He instilled in me the notion that everything we do as players on this team reverberates throughout the team and shapes the outcome of an inning, a game or a season.

Off the field Coach Looney just enjoyed the ride. Traveling the country with 20 plus college girls and an all female coaching staff for three straight months every year would drive most men insane.  But Mr. Looney always had a good time and just embraced the experience of being able to watch us develop as a team from game to game.  He was our comic relief, Washington D.C. tour guide, source of obscure trivia and the first one to remind us that we were all just a bunch of SCRUBS!

After decades on the field Looney never lost that passion and love of the game.  He passed a little bit of that desire and drive on to all of us, and for that we are grateful. I feel privileged not only that I got to play for him but that I got to know him as a person. He truly was an amazing man who will be missed very much by everyone involved in the UConn softball program. As we dedicate our upcoming season to Coach Looney we will bring with us the memories, love, laughs and warm smiles he helped us to create along the way.

The Beginning of the End ~By: Amy Deluca #18

The fall of 2008 was a memorable time for me. This marked the first time that I played for a Division 1 softball team; the University of Connecticut’s Big East Softball team. I had spent the majority of my childhood playing softball, all with the dreams and goals to play for a Division 1 softball team and in the fall of 2008, they finally came true. Now, four fall seasons later, I find myself reminiscing on the past. I cannot believe that after all of these years of playing softball, it is all about to come to an end in May. I know that I am speaking not only for myself, but also my fellow seniors when I say that time really does fly.

Throughout my past years at UConn, I have developed lasting friendships with my teammates and have learned life lessons that I will carry with me through my life. Being a Division 1 athlete does not come easy. My teammates and I have worked very hard, pushing ourselves to the limit, in order to be successful and become the best student-athletes that we could be. Although there were many days that we felt as if we would not get past, we always did. I now have the upmost respect for not only my team, but all student-athletes for their dedication to both their sport and school work. The lessons that I have learned and the experiences that I encountered have made be a better person and will help me be successful in my life. Not to mention that playing a Division 1 sport at UConn is always, and will always be a great conversation starter! No matter where I go there seems to always be someone who wants to hear all about playing a sport at UConn.

Going into my final season at UConn, I am very excited to see what the year is going to bring. Although I was not able to participate in our fall season, I was able to watch my team succeed and grow. The girls are very determined and hard working, which I believe will lead to a very successful season. We open our season with nationally ranked Georgia, which will be an epic competition to start off our season. I am also excited to watch my team and participate in achieving our goals, working towards a Big East championship. Though my years have flown by at UConn, especially this year, the memories that I have here are some of the best of my life and will never be forgotten. The lessons that I have learned and the friends that I have made will always remain a large part of me, no matter where I go in life. I am very excited to see what our spring 2012 season will bring and I know it will be one of my most memorable. GO HUSKIES!

Time Flies ~By: Ali Adelman #1

All summer I wondered what it would feel like to finally start my senior year of college. Well, now I can tell you exactly what that feels like. Bittersweet. And a little bit more bitter than sweet. It feels like just yesterday I was a freshman moving into Batterson, and meeting all the other girls on the team for the first time. Carrying a map around campus trying to find my classes; wandering around the field house, getting lost on my way to the locker room. Now, I know this campus like the back of my hand, and there are no more older girls to be nervous to meet.

It’s a harsh reality, knowing I am a senior here at UConn. Realizing I’ve had my last, first day of class. Where did the time go! This past Friday night was my last “First Night”. First night signifies the beginning of basketball season. It is a kind of pep rally for both the girls and boys basketball teams. This year was special because our men’s team won the National Championship last year, and our girls team made it to the Final Four! Gampel Pavilion was completely packed with people who had been lined up outside for hours waiting just to get a good seat. Luckily, a few girls and I managed to get great seats! We had a perfect view of all the players being introduced, the three-point contest, the slam-dunk contest, and a women’s basketball team dance off. It was quite an entertaining night.

Among some other lasts this weekend was my last Homecoming. Almost the whole team got together and went to go watch our football team play its homecoming game at ‘The Rent’ against University of South Florida. It was also very crowded as lots of alumni came back to support UConn Football in its Homecoming game. It was a battle but we came out on top, 16-10! It was a very exciting game and a fun Homecoming weekend, and I’m really sad that it’s my last.

Being at events such as First Night, and the homecoming football game just makes me realize how much I am going to miss all the school spirit that UConn has. The past 3 years have gone by so fast and this one so far has as well.  I have had some sad realizations that it’s my last year and the real world is fast approaching. But I have made the best of every day, and will continue to do that throughout my senior year! I can’t believe this is my fourth and final year in college and that I only have one more season of college softball left. The team this year has worked hard both on the field and in the weight room and we will continue to work hard in our off-season this winter to hopefully have the best season yet. For me and the other seniors we saved the best for last!

 

Our Pack. Our Pride. ~By: Jen Ward #8

One double header down. Many more to go. This past Sunday, we played a game against Eastern Connecticut and Bryant. The first game did not go as anticipated. We lost to “the small school down the street”. I think that loss was good for us, though. We learned very early this year that nothing will be handed to us. Merely showing up to the game will not get us where we need to be and most certainly will not ensure a victory. We came out flat, without any passion to win. We assumed that because we were playing Eastern, we’d win. HA.

When the game was over, I really liked what I saw. I looked around at my teammates, and for the first time in a long time, I saw them pissed off. I knew right then, the next game was going to be better. We decided to take pride in our school and in our team. We weren’t going to lose to Bryant. We came together as a team and we made some noise with our bats. Even with two of our best hitters away for the weekend, we put up 14 hits on the board. Pretty impressive.

I’d like to see us hold onto that feeling we felt after losing to Eastern, and use it to fuel us throughout the year. If we believe in ourselves and in our abilities, and refuse to lose each game we play, we’re going to be a seriously hard team to beat.