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Pro softball player makes lasting impression

Posted: March 21, 2012 - 12:06am
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Olympian Jessica Mendoza signs items for 11-year-old Madison Hamlin at The Jessica Mendoza Experience held Saturday at Greenbrier High School. Mendoza is now a professional softball player.  Photos by Scott Rouch
Photos by Scott Rouch
Olympian Jessica Mendoza signs items for 11-year-old Madison Hamlin at The Jessica Mendoza Experience held Saturday at Greenbrier High School. Mendoza is now a professional softball player.

Softball players who attended The Jessica Mendoza Experience at Greenbrier High School on Saturday got to see what makes the heart of a champion.

Mendoza, who won gold and silver medals with the U.S. Olympic softball team and is now a professional softball player, spent five hours with 40 Greenbrier High and local softball players in what was part clinic and part motivational session.

The players participated in drills and training on the Lady Wolfpack’s softball field, then the group moved to the school’s cafeteria. After showing videos of female athletes, including a highlight reel of her own exploits, Mendoza talked about being successful in their own lives. She said while she wanted them to be able to play better softball, she hoped they would take what she said and apply it to their lives.

“I really want them to make the right decisions in life,” Mendoza said. “As female athletes, I think one of the biggest advantages is the fact you can get the confidence you get in sports and take it into life.

“Eighty-seven percent of women who are in executive positions all played sports. It’s because they learn that competitiveness; they learn that confidence... It’s about teaching these girls to feel good about who they are and make the right decisions.”

In addition to the empowerment message, Greenbrier softball coach and athletic director Garrett Black said Mendoza exudes a love of her sport that he hopes catches on.

“She has that genuine love for the game of softball,” he said. “It’s something that’s within. She’s got it, and if it’s contagious with the kids here today, and in particular my girls that are here today, that’s what I want them to learn.”

That love of softball came through while she spoke, especially when emphasizing her motto of “Love it. Dream it. Live it.”

“I get paid to play a sport I love,” she said of being a member of the Florida Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league.

Her teaching on the field also made its mark.

“I liked the bunting station because I’m not the greatest and it helped me,” said 11-year-old Madison Hamlin.

Will Mackelburg, a Greenbrier softball parent booster, played slow pitch with Mendoza’s husband Adam, and was instrumental in Mendoza coming to Augusta.

“It’s nice to have that connection and now I want to return and be a part of these young girls’ lives,” Mendoza said.

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