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Olympic Gold Medalist, four-time All-American and former U.S. National Softball Team member Jessica Mendoza, one of the most recognized names in softball, had her dedication to the sport she loves recently put to the test.
Since softball was removed from the Olympic Games for 2012 and beyond, U.S. National team members faced difficult decisions. Unable to play for both USA Softball and National Pro Fastpitch [NPF], Mendoza, along with former 2008 Olympic teammates Cat Osterman, Caitlin Lowe and Monica Abbott, ultimately decided not to re-sign with the U.S. National team and instead to focus their efforts on NPF.
“As much as I want to see our sport return to the Olympic Games, there is something this sport needs even more: the opportunity for women to say they play the sport of softball for a living,” says Mendoza, who has been able to secure several sponsorships in her career, including Spalding’s Dudley softball brand and, most notably, Nike. She says her dream “is to make these same professional opportunities [accessible] to every young softball player out there.”
But for a softball player to make it professionally, she must first excel at the game. This means spending long hours training—even in the off-season. For Mendoza, the off-season means as much cross-training as possible, from mountain climbing to water polo. [Read about the benefits of cross-training here]. In January, she incorporates sport-specific exercises back into her workouts, increasing the softball component with each consecutive month as June approaches. "This is what keeps me sane," she says, "and every year I find something new from another sport that I usually add to my softball-related workouts."
Those workouts have allowed Mendoza to make her living by playing the game she loves.