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California dreaming

by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor

Trying to earn a college scholarship is becoming harder and harder by the day. More and more young ladies are playing softball, which doesn’t leave much room for error.

Here on the East Coast, there isn’t much opportunity for girls to shine. The softball season is dependent on the weather - and that could get dicey. In Western New York, softball season starts in April and runs until August, but, in reality, the harsh winter, and cole spring, usually means the softball season does;t get going until mid May.

That doesn’t leave many opportunities to shine on the big stage in front of college coaches as they look to evaluate you, and your progress.

In Southern California the recruiting process is so much different. Softball in So Cal is 12 months a year, or at least it feels that way. Prospects are honing their skills all year long as they chase that elusive scholarship to continue to play at the next level.

Shayna Glass has been doing everything possible over the past couple of seasons to get noticed by college coaches. She is a solid outfielder with a plus arm and tremendous speed. She is just like a lot of others girls that play in So Cal.

But, there is something about Glass. She has the “IT” factor. She is showing college coaches across the country that she can play at the next level. Still, recruiting isn’t easy in a rich state like California - where softball is considered one of the top sports to play.

“Recruiting is tough in general. But especially tough in Southern California where there are so many incredible athletes wanting to get noticed as well. When it comes to even the little things in softball it is always a competition to me. When everyone else is walking off the field, I am running. When everyone is quiet and focused on what they're doing wrong I am cheering others on and being louder than the girl next to me. I try to do the little things with a lot of energy to help me stand out from the girls to my left and right,” stated Glass. “I have had college coaches pull me aside during camps and tell me the things that I have done that are unique that make me stand out. Feedback like that keeps me motivated and searching for the next thing to stand apart. At the end of the day, as I move up in levels and surround myself with better talent - we are all good players. The coaches expect us to be able to hit, catch, run fast and play our position better than we need to find a way to stand out when we can. Keep our eyes open for opportunities and when they come - go for it.”

Glass takes her game seriously. She is an outstanding outfielder for her school, and travel team. She is a student of the game, always trying to get better. A lot of people might think playing the outfield is easy, but it isn’t. You need to have solid communication with the other two players, as to not run into each other.

You also need to play your angles right. Not every player is gifted with elite speed or an elite arm. Being able to be set up in the right position goes a long way to making a great play or having ball get hit over your head.

These area ll the little things that Glass works on daily. She has a cannon for an arm, and probably could play other positions on the diamond. It’s the outfield that she loves. She loves being able to make a great catch, or being able to throw out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double.

It’s the competitive fire that separates Glass from the rest of the bunch.

“I pride myself in my strong and accurate arm. I think the outfield is a really cool position because you could play at any three of the spots and it is still the same fundamentals and mindset. One of The challenges is knowing how the girl next to you plays and communicates because communication is a huge factor. Trust is key.,” stated Glass. “This is why I love center field because you get to make calls and direct traffic….Another factor that is challenging is the weather, you need to know which way the wind is going or if the sun is directly in your eyes. I also like the challenge of the fences. I always start the game by checking out the fences and how much distance I have, is it a breakaway fence or is it a high is it ...can I jump high enough or do I need to go through it...all things I love about the outfield.”

Confidence is a big thing in sports as well. A player must have the confidence that when their name is called they can get the job done. Some athletes don’t want to be put in that position, while other thrive.

Glass wants her name called in the big situations. She wants to step up to the plate when the game is on the line. Leaders lead, and Glass is a leader. She will do whatever it takes to help her team win.

If it’s starting and getting the game winning hit, great. If she in on the bench that game, then Glass will be the biggest cheerleader in the dugout. It’s a team sport for a reason. It takes every player on the team to win the game, just not the nine that are out there on the field.

“I do have a lot of pride and confidence in knowing that if my coach needs me to get the job done I can do it. I have played every role in the line up from leadoff to clean up and everything between. Over the years of travel ball, except for pitcher, I have had to step in and help my teams out in every position at some time. Every role on the roster is equally important to me - that is why they call it a team sport. Whether I am starting or sitting that game - I have a role. If I am on a team, I am going to represent the name on the front of my jersey no matter where the coach has me that day,” stated Glass. “Don’t get me wrong, I am competitive and hate sitting because I want to do my part in helping the team, but I have learned that I need to trust the coaches in knowing that they want to win and that they will equally have every player's best interest in mind. If I can’t trust them, how can I expect them to trust me? It helps that I simplify the game because at the end of the day it is a game meant to be fun and enjoyable. I once read this quote by Mia Hamm: “Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back... play for her.” … and that is exactly what I am doing … I am playing for her.”

Glass is the type of person that will just try and get better. As a youngster, Glass wasn’t gifted with the greatest speed. She never won any racing competitions. That didn’t sit well with her. She is a competitive person.

She wanted to get better. She wanted to get smarter. Not every one is going to be Ricky Henderson or Bo Jackson. But, base running isn’t just about speed, it’s about being smart. Glass has gotten faster, but she also has gotten smarter on the base paths. That’s a deadly combination for any great base runner.

“ As a kid, I was never the fastest girl and never won any of the running competitions. Being a competitive person, I did not like that. Early on I was fortunate to have Kobe Bryant as one of my mentors and through him, I learned about the power of reps. If you want to get ahead, you need to do more reps than the person next to you,” stated Glass. “It might not be today or the next day, but eventually those reps added together will get you the results you want. So that is what I do. After hard work and some coaches along the way I have become a faster, smarter baserunner. When it comes to stealing it is about being aggressive , getting a good jump, sliding away from the tag and definitely not being afraid to get down and dirty.”

It just isn’t about softball in the Glass household, either. She knows the importance of getting the job in the classroom as well. Her grades are just as important as getting the game winning hit, or throwing out the go-ahead run to win the game.

Without good grades there is no softball. Without good grades there is no chance at a scholarship to play at the next level. Glass makes sure she puts everything into perspective. She knows softball won’t be there for ever.

“In my family we have a rule that school always comes first (before sports or extra activities). If your grades aren't good or slipping then you don't get to’s that simple. I have a good balance. It keeps me focused and motivated in school so I can play the game that I love,” stated Glass. “My parents have taught me that it is ok if I fail as long as it isn’t because of lack of preparation. If I have prepared to the best of my ability and applied myself and come up short, then I learn from it. I have been taught to grow from failure not to fear it or run from it. This mind set has allowed me to not stress out about minor, temporary setbacks. I know that I will learn from it and get better from it. This has helped me both in the classroom and on the field.”

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