Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gearing Up for LSU

Listen up my Louisiana people! It’s time to gear up and get ready because the USSSA Pride will be invading Baton Rouge July 4th weekend!!! The Pride will be playing against the Carolina Diamonds July 6-8 at Tiger Park! If you have plans for the weekend, you might want to reschedule because this is going to be a once in a life time opportunity event! As you may recall, the LSU Softball team played against the NPF team this past fall when they were on tour. However, this weekend of softball will be unlike any softball game you have ever witnessed at Tiger Park. You will definitely be in for an amazing thrill as you experience two professional softball teams battle it out! You will get to witness some of the best softball players in the world take the field, such as Jessica Mendoza, Cat Osterman, Natasha Watley, and Caitlin Lowe. You will recognize many of the players of both teams as many of the women are former Olympians, SEC rivals, and Women’s College World Series champions.

The USSSA Pride and the Carolina Diamonds will begin the series Friday night at 7:05 and then continue the battle with a double header on Saturday at 12:05 and 2:35. The final game of the series will take place Sunday at 2:05. At the conclusion of each game, fans will be given the opportunity to get autographs and take pictures with all the NPF players. To add on to the collector items, you will have the opportunity to purchase USSSA Pride merchandise. There will be player jerseys, arm sleeves, hats and visors, and glittery headbands (courtesy of Ashley Charters). Ashley Charters is one of my teammates on the Pride and a former player on the USA National Team. For the past year and a half, Ashley and her friend, Layne Bryant, have been making their own headbands called Glitterbandz. The headbands come in many different colors and designs, plus you can create your own custom headband! If you would like to purchase any of these amazing Glitterbandz before they’re all sold out at Tiger Park, you can visit Ashley and Layne’s website at www.myglitterbandz.com.

This truly is a once in a life time opportunity, so you don’t want to miss out! So fans rearrange those July 4th plans and drive to Baton Rouge and head on over to Tiger Park! To add to this amazing weekend, the LSU Softball camp for July starts Sunday the 8th! Coach Beth Torina runs a fantastic camp and provides young softball players with great knowledge and drills to improve their softball skills. There is also a bonus with the LSU camp… campers get a free ticket to the NPF game on Sunday! How awesome is that?! So parents it’s not too late to sign your kids up for camp from Sunday July 8 to Wednesday July 11. Current and former LSU softball players will be helping out with the camp, including myself!

I am so excited to be back home in Baton Rouge! This weekend means a lot to me to be able to see my family and friends at Tiger Park one more time. So please everyone, throw on your red, white and navy blue to support the USSSA Pride this weekend! (If my LSU fans wear purple and gold, you won’t hear any complaints from me!) I hope to see everyone at Tiger Park this weekend!

Geaux Pride!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting to Know... Kristyn Sandberg

Hello again readers! I hope you all are ready for a good read because in this blog you will get to know my fellow Pride teammate and former SEC rival Kristyn Sandberg. As many of you know, this stud rookie just finished playing four years at the University of Georgia. Although her main position is catcher, she has also played first base, third base, and even short stop… A very versatile player if you ask me! Besides her remarkable defensive skills, her offensive skills need no explanation. After only playing with the Pride for three NPF series, she is already hitting a whopping .556 with one homerun and seven RBIs. Needless to say this girl can crush the ball! As a former rival, I must say I HATED pitching against Kristyn! It didn’t matter where I placed the ball or how much it broke, this girl always seemed to get the barrel on the ball and drive it in the complete opposite direction. I remember this past season I threw a screwball on her hands and she somehow gets a shot between first and second base… What the heck! I’m sorry Kristyn, but there were times when I just wanted to hit you and be done with it! But I guess other pitchers did that enough for me this past season... Mwah-ha-ha! I still love you though! Especially now that you’re on my team and I don’t have to face you anymore! Hurray!

Moving on, I must say that my favorite thing about Kristyn is her energy. For those of you who have seen me play for LSU, there is no way that you could have missed my own energy and serious amount of fist pumping. I am proud to say that Kristyn is also a major fist pumper! We both just get so sucked into the game that we express our feelings of excitement after every play! I have already received messages on Twitter and heard from others that our pitcher-catcher duo is a fist pumping frenzy. I absolutely love it! Honestly, I think our fist pumping extravaganza brings twice as much energy and entertainment throughout the entire stadium! Our fellow Pride teammates say they love it and so do the fans. So for all those in favor of witnessing this entertainment, watch our games live on our website at usssapride.com.

Now that you know Kristyn is a fist pumping catcher who drops bombs, let see what else there is to know about her. Kristyn grew up in Island Park, New York with her mom Susan, dad Robert, and her, soon to be, 14 year old younger brother Ryan. Kristyn graduated from West Hempstead High School before attending the University of Georgia where she is majoring in Health and Physical Education. Kristyn will officially graduate in December of 2012 after she finishes her student teaching in the fall.

Since I’ve had a lot of down time these past few weeks to get to know my new teammate, I’ve learned that she loves to play hockey. Kristyn started playing hockey at age 8 and actually won the New York State Championship at age 14. So for a fun inside joke, some of us on the Pride call her Goldberg, which if anyone has seen the movie the Mighty Ducks knows that is the name of the goalie on the hockey team. How this nickname came about for Kristyn is actually due to the creative combining of part of her last name with the last name of a former teammate from Georgia, Alisa Goler. Goler currently plays first base for the Chicago Bandits. Fellow Georgia teammates were torn between which NPF jersey to represent, Goler or Sandberg. So they decided they would buy both jerseys, cut them down the middle and stitch the halves together. As you can see, combining Goler with Sandberg gives you Goldberg! I think it is quite ironic how Kristyn has this nickname due to the fact that she also plays hockey. I also think it’s ironic that even though she is not a goalie in hockey, she plays the one position in softball where she must wear a mask to protect her face. So tell me readers… Do you see a resemblance?

Ha-ha! Sorry Kristyn! I just couldn’t resist putting these pictures side by side! At least I didn’t post this picture of Goldberg as a resemblance…

(Even though this picture is from the movie Heavy Weights, it’s still the same actor!)

Now that we’ve all had a good laugh, let’s get back to finding out more interesting things about Kristyn Sandberg. What better way to get to know the famous Kristyn than hearing from someone who has played with her for a few years. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the inside view from Alisa Goler!

I was lucky enough to live with Sandy for 3 years at UGA. The first thing I realized upon being stuck in the same apartment with her 24/7 was that I better be a fan of Toy Story. Between the dishes in our kitchen, her comforter on her bed, and the Disney Collector's Items of all 3 Toy Story Movies, our place was an 8 year old's paradise. BUT, don't let that fool you, Sandy is one of the most competitive players and people you will come across, and she isn't afraid to tell you. She even used to challenge my puppy, Colbie, to Tug-A-War matches with a sock. She wouldn't stop until my poor dog was passed out on the floor from exhaustion. Reallllllll cool, Sandy.

“Also, we must touch on her infamous hairstyle. PTG, or Pony Tail Girl, as some of her friends from home call her, rocks her unique up-do like a champ. Good luck trying to mimic it because it cannot be done, I have tried many a time. It is literally impossible to get your hair to stay as high on your head as hers does. Apparently it's a hairstyle suited for her and only her.

“Now, let's also throw in the fact that Sandy enjoys some PlayStation 3 gaming. I used to wake up at 2am and walk out to our kitchen to get some water only to see Kristyn parked on the couch playing Madden 12, NCAAFB 12, or NHL 12. One guess which teams were her favorites (Mets, Islanders, and whichever school had the best mascot). Never a dull moment with this one!

“One of my favorite things is the fact that Sandy can surf. When she told me she had a surfboard I mocked her shamelessly because I did not understand how one could surf on waves that were 1-2 feet tall off the shores of New York, but apparently it can be done. So Sandy, I apologize. She loves being by the water and you could usually find her at the pool studying or laying out when she wasn't on the diamond. I'm sure all of her USSSA teammates can attest to this also.

“Lastly, Sandy has some crazy stuff wrong with her, like the fact that her fingers consistently turn purple. On Halloween, we could have hid her hand in a bowl of candy and scared small children by telling them it was a dead person's hand. So nasty.” On a funny side note, the Pride has developed a new nickname for her extremely purple index finger… ET!

Back to you Goler!
“To round things out, Sandy is super hard-nosed on the exterior, but a big softy deep down. She has a huge heart and is always willing to help a friend in need. Although it's weird playing against her now on a regular basis, I can say that I'm extremely proud of her and hope that she is able to win this season's NPF Rookie of the Year because I know how hard she works each and every day. You'll always be one of my best friends, Sandy. Love ya!”

So a quick recap on things to know about Kristyn: she LOVES Toy Story, she’s very competitive (I mean she won’t even let a little puppy win at Tug-A-War!), she has three nicknames (Goldberg, PTG, and ET), she loves to play sport games on her PlayStation, she likes to surf, and she has purple fingers… I guess she would have fit into the LSU fan club seeing how we bleed purple and gold! Aside from all this, the most important thing to take away from this blog is that Kristyn is a fantastic ball player and an even better person. She is a true teammate and loves the game of softball! I asked Kristyn to answer a few random questions so that everyone out there can learn a little more about her from her own perspective. Enjoy!

When did you start playing softball?
I first started playing baseball when I was 5 years old. I didn’t begin playing softball until I was in 7th grade. 

Coolest moment with the Pride so far:
It’s a toss-up between getting my first professional hit against the Bandits or my first professional homerun against the Diamonds. 

Favorite softball memory:
One of my favorite softball moments was reaching the Women’s College World Series in 2009 for the first time in program history. Oklahoma City is an amazing place where only the best in the country get to experience. My other favorite softball memory is hitting my first homerun over the fence at 14 on Father’s Day and doing it every Father’s Day since then. 

Which game this season are you most looking forward to and why:
I look forward to playing every game. Getting the opportunity to play professionally is something that only a few girls get to experience and I just love being at the ballpark every day and being on the field with my teammates. 

Who is your role model?
My parents. My parents were always in the yard playing with me and helping me get better at whatever sport I was playing. They attended as many of my games as they could as I was growing up whether it was hockey, basketball, soccer, baseball or softball. 

Best advice you were ever given:
There’s a choice you make in everything you do and you must always keep in mind the choice you make, makes you. 

Your advice to young people:
You have no one to impress but yourself. DREAM BIG. 

One thing about you most people don’t know:
In middle school I was first chair violin. In 6th grade I switched to playing the stand-up bass and was first chair throughout the rest of middle school and high school. 

What is the best present you’ve ever received growing up:
When I was younger I always wanted a little brother. Now I realize that’s not something you go to the store and buy but at the time, having a little brother was the only thing I wanted. In 1997 we went on a family vacation to Woodloch Pines in Pennsylvania. One night they had horse races and my parents bet on the horse and named it Baby Makes 4. That’s when I found out I was going to have a sibling. When he was born I was the happiest 8-year- old ever. Having my brother Ryan around was great because I always had someone to play with. Even though he’s 8 & ½ years younger than me, we compete against each other in sports like we’re the same age whether it’s basketball in the drive-way, hockey down at the roller rink, or whiffle ball in the back yard. As I’ve watched him grow up and take on new challenges, I couldn’t be more proud of the boy he is becoming and can’t wait to see what accomplishes in his life.

If you could have dinner with one influential person in the world, who would it be and why?
Walt Disney – what he’s built is incredible, it brings a smile to your face no matter how old you are. “All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” 

What is one word you would use to describe yourself and why?
Realistic - I like to keep things in prospective. 

What is your favorite sport to watch or play other than softball?
Ice Hockey  

If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Toss-up between Mike Eruzione who scored the game winning goal to beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics & Ken Marrow who won an Olympic Gold medal in 1980 and multiple Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders. 

What do you plan on doing with your Health and Physical Education major?
Hopefully, I will be able to get the elementary school position in my hometown when the current teacher retires in the near future. A part of me would also like to test the waters of becoming a college coach.

I think I am addicted to… shopping-mostly buying new athletic sneakers. 

If you could go back in time, what would you do or see?
If I could go back in time and see one thing it would be the 1980 Olympics. I would love to watch Herb Brooks and the American hockey team beat the Soviet Union and go on to win the Gold Medal.

Craziest ambition:
When I was a kid and I was playing baseball I dreamed of becoming the first girl to play for the New York Mets.

Favorite candy – Mike & Ikes
Favorite food – Chips & Queso Dip
Favorite drink – Snapple Ice Tea
Favorite color – Blue
Favorite vacation spot – A Royal Caribbean Cruise
Favorite song on your iPod – I have a lot but currently, Payphone & Call Me Maybe
Favorite book – Through My Eyes
Favorite movie – Toy Story
Favorite TV show – Law & Order: SVU
Favorite athlete – Mike Piazza

So quick note for all you readers out there, if you ever want to get Kristyn a surprise gift, I’d go for Toy Story items or Mike and Ikes! I hope you all enjoyed learning more about one of the newest Pride members, Kristyn Sandberg. Stayed tuned to see what’s coming up on the next blog!

Geaux Pride!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hello everyone! Brittany Mack here with a new blog site! This is my first time to ever write a blog, so readers please go easy on me! For my first blog, I would like to introduce myself to those who do not know me and to allow those who do know me to get a chance to learn some interesting facts about me that you may not know. Let's start with the basics... I was born in Phoenix, Arizona but my home town since age 3 is Round Rock, Texas. I am currently a professional softball player for the USSSA Pride located in Orlando, Florida. I recently graduated from Louisiana State University this past May where I pitched for four amazing years and received a major in kinesiology with a concentration in human movement (physical therapy to be more specific). Before attending LSU, I graduated from Westwood High School in Austin, Texas, where I also played softball for four years. My parents are Jan and Scott Mack, I have an older sister named Courtney (who is my best friend!), and the love of my life is none other than Josh Oakes! So the basics are: me + family + softball = a fantastic life! Seeing how this quick summary gives insufficient detail about who I am, let’s dig a little further, shall we?

Let’s start with the present time period. As stated earlier, I was drafted to play for the USSSA Pride. So I am one of a few rookies that were blessed with the opportunity to play for such an elite team with some of the greatest softball players in the world! There are too many greats to name, but I promise you will all get a chance to get to know these girls more as I intend to include their own personal facts and statements in future blogs! Of course, you can always visit our website at usssapride.com to look at the player profiles… but I intend to include more fun facts in my blogs, so you might want to stick around! Anyways, I have been living in Orlando for the past two and a half weeks simply loving life and playing the wonderful game of softball. Since I flew into town, the Pride has already played a total of 12 games in Chicago, Corpus Christi, Daytona, and Clermont. Outside of practice and games, I spend my spare time hanging out with my new teammates and enjoying my beautiful summer away from school! Three cheers for graduation! Hurray! So far I have had the most wonderful experience with these girls and the entire USSSA program.

Being a rookie with the Pride, most people remember me as a former LSU Tiger! I will forever bleed purple and gold and I will always support my Tigers! And for those of you who say us “Cajuns” don’t know how to spell, cough Kristyn Sandberg cough… GEAUX Tigers!!! For those who don’t know, Kristyn Sandberg is another rookie teammate on the Pride and a former rival in the SEC. She’s a Georgia Bulldog, but you will get to know her more in a later blog! So back to my story… I was recruited by former LSU head softball coach and National Hall of Fame legend Yvette Girouard. I was honored to play for her for three years, and thanks to her, she turned me into an All-American. During my senior year, I was blessed with the opportunity to play for another great coach, Beth Torina (who is also the head coach for the Pride). You will get to know both of these fantastic coaches in later blogs as well! It’s not very often that players have such a wonderful opportunity as this during their college career! I was even fortunate enough to play in the Women’s College World Series my senior year. Although it still saddens me to think about the last game of my college career, I am lucky to say I was able to finish my career at the WCWS. As the tradition goes with seniors leaving their cleats on the softball field, I got to leave my cleats in Oklahoma City. Playing softball for LSU has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. Not only has it led me to continue my softball career at the professional level, but it has taught me the importance of leadership, character, and love for my teammates. I dearly miss my Tiger teammates, especially one of my best friends and fellow pitchers, Rachele Fico. That girl is one heck of a pitcher and a truly amazing person! I hope to have her on my team again next year after she graduates from LSU! While attending LSU, I also got to know someone else very close to me... the love of my life, Josh! He is by far my biggest fan and supporter. Most of you have probably seen him at either the LSU games or when he surprised me at the World Series. Best surprise ever! He truly is the greatest man, and hopefully someday he will pop the question… Fingers crossed!
Obviously, softball is a huge part of my life… Okay that’s an understatement, softball IS my life! But aside from softball, there are other fun facts about me. First off, I am a country girl who absolutely loves to go horse-back riding. Come on, I’m from Texas, what did you expect? Now don’t get me wrong, I do like to visit the city and I love to go shopping! What girl doesn’t? But if I could have it my way, I would be living out in the country with AT LEAST ten acres of land surrounded by a white fence with several horses roaming around. Maybe throw in a softball field behind the house… Oh yes, that’s my dream land! I always tell people that in my other life I would be a barrel-racing champion! Besides my love for softball and horses, I am your typical friendly, caring, and loving person! If all you readers out there get a chance to meet me, you’ll get to see my fun self! But until then, hopefully you continue reading my blog and support women’s softball in any way you can! That’s actually my main reason for creating this blog site… My goal is to help increase awareness and support for women’s softball, more specifically National Pro Fastpitch (NPF). For those of you who do not know, there are only four professional softball teams in the US: USSSA Pride, Chicago Bandits, Akron Racers, and Carolina Diamonds. Though we are few in numbers, it makes the NPF that much more special to all the players and those who love and support us!

If you are reading this, I’m hoping that you are a softball fan and supporter and that you continue supporting us and the league! If you would like to learn more about the NPF or the USSSA Pride, you can visit the following websites:

I hope that you all continue to check out my blogs to learn more about softball, whether it is interviews with Pride teammates, Olympic Gold Medalists, legendary coaches, or just some fun facts! And don’t worry, I will spice things up a bit and throw in some fun blogs about different topics. So stick around and find out what’s coming up next! If you would like to get updates and sneak peeks about the next blogs to come, follow me on Facebook or Twitter! @GeauxPride_44

I hope you enjoyed my first blog and I look forward to hearing from all my new followers! This is Brittany Mack signing out!

Geaux Pride!