by: Noemi Chaves
UCLA Alumni, Olympian, retired NPF Player, Andrea Duran answers a few questions for Softball Lifestyle 101.
What is your opinion on the Olympics coming back and why?
I think that it is awesome that softball is back in the Olympics. I think that it is a sport that should have been there all along and should have never been taken out. I had the opportunity to go in ‘08 right at the height of my career and probably could have earned my way to two more if it was not taken out, so I am so happy that up-and-coming softball players will get the same opportunity that I had.
What was the feeling of playing for your country?
There is no other feeling like it. When you play in college, you are representing your school. When you play pro, you are representing the organization, the team, and the city that you play for, but when you play for your country, you are representing the whole USA, and that is crazy to think about.
What is your opinion on the game before compared to now?
I feel like that game has changed a lot from when I was in college, especially with the early recruiting. I feel like it has become so much more like a business. When I played travel ball we played to win each tournament, we played to have fun, we competed and while doing this we got recruited. We wanted to get recruited, it was our main goal, but our main focus was to win! Nowadays I feel like the main focus is college and getting recruited and the fun has been taken from it.
As far as college, I feel like when I played it was a sport dominated by good hitting and good defense. The batting averages weren't as high as you see them nowadays. I feel like the kids have so many more resources to get better and to grow as athletes that we did not have growing up, which develops them into potentially better hitters.
When did you know you wanted to be in the Olympics?
It is actually really funny, before I ever played softball I was a swimmer. In my 3rd grade yearbook we had to write down three goals and one of them was to be an Olympic star (in swimming), so I guess it was a goal as early as second grade. Little did I know at that time, that I would make it in softball and not swimming!
What was the atmosphere like at the Olympics?
The atmosphere at the Olympics is exciting, but alsoall business: we are there to represent our country and to kick butt. The first few days being there just felt like college: go to practice, eat, sleep in the dorms in the village. I think the atmosphere became real when we went to opening ceremonies. That is when it felt like we were at the Olympics and I get the chills every time I think about marching into the stadium with all my fellow USA Athletes chanting U-S-A. U-S-A.
Any comments or advice you'd like to leave for young female athletes wanting to compete at the collegiate, pro, and Olympic level
If competing at the highest level is your ultimate goal, it is going to take a lot hard work and a lot of sacrifice. You have to be willing to give up somethings in order to reach that long time goal. Every time you do not want to go out and practice remember your goal and get out there in and do it. It will be worth it. I remember growing up I had to miss slumber parties, and football games, and graduation parties because of softball. At the time my heart was broken, I was sad, it was the end of the world! Now I look back and laugh and realize that giving up those small things to reach my goals gave me huge opportunities. Also, try to be the best you you can be in every aspect of your life in order to set yourself apart from everyone else