USA Players Remember Their Dads

June 19, 2006, 1:53 p.m. (ET)
USA Players Remember Their Dads on Father’s Day

“Don’t worry, everything will work out. It always works out.” This is the best piece of advice that I have ever received in my life, and it came from my Dad. He said it to me at a time when I was struggling with softball, and while he was lying in a hospital bed struggling to get healthy. I apply this quote not only to my athletic endeavors, but also to my everyday life. 

My Father has been the biggest influence in my life, and my softball career. He has provided me with everything that I need to be successful. From the beginning of my softball career, playing in the recreational league in my hometown, he has supported me 100 percent. When I told him that I wanted to be a pitcher he went out of his way to find out the best pitching coach in the area, and signed me up for lessons. On the days that I didn’t have lessons he would take me out, sit on a bucket, and let me hurl softballs at him (there weren’t many times that he walked away without bruises). 

My Father has been incredibly inspirational to me in all aspects of my life. I admire him because he has been through so much, and he continues to be the strongest person I know. He has always made sure that I enjoy life and enjoy softball, making sure that I was still having fun. When I was younger he used to take me out to Wendys, buy me a Frostee and ask me if softball was still fun for me. The answer was always YES! What counted the most was that he cared enough to ask. 

My Father is the typical sports dad, and I know that no matter what he is my biggest fan. He has always been there for me, and I know that he will continue to be there for me. This is why he is the biggest influence in my softball career. 

Alicia Hollowell #34 

Lending His Support 

My dad, Harvey Berg, has had a major impact on my athletic career. He still does. When Randi and I were young he would take us to the park when he got home from work, and would hit ground balls and fly balls to the two of us. Every Friday night he would take me to the batting cages and feed the pitching machine for an hour so I could work on my hitting. He never missed a game whether it was basketball, volleyball or softball. 

My favorite thing to do with my dad was to talk about the game when we were on our way home. He knows what to say to me when I have a bad game, and knows when to push me. I would not be where I am today without my Father. He has been so supportive of my sister and I, buying us new bats, gloves, cleats etc., when we needed them. He taught us to never give up and never be satisfied with mediocre performances. He taught us to be physically and mentally tough and to always be positive. 

Laura Berg #44 

My Coach: My Father 

In the development of an athlete, there is no more unique relationship than that of a father and his daughter. At least that was the case for me and my father, Gil Mendoza. My father grew up as a first-generation Mexican-American, struggling with a language and culture around him so different from how he was raised. He learned from a very young age that he had to work that much harder just to get ahead in life. This mentality would be a way of life that he would always carry with him, and later place a strong influence on the lives of his children. 

I grew up as the ultimate tomboy: I played with all boys in my neighborhood, always had skinned knees, and was involved in every sport under the sun. My father was my coach for all of them, his specialty being softball since he was the head baseball coach at a local college. At the time, I hated it. It seemed I couldn't do anything right. If I went 3 for 4 with two home runs and a double, his question to me after the game was always, “So what happened in that fourth at-bat?” 

Later on, however, I realized this was my father’s way of pushing me to the next level, and making sure I was always putting forth my absolute best. And it is directly because of his criticism and influence that I have accomplished what I have today. No matter what goals I have achieved, I always know there is an even bigger one waiting right around the corner. 

For all you fathers and daughters out there, I know you will understand 

me when I say this: Through all the words and criticisms that are said along 

the way, there is no greater moment in a daughter’s life then when she 

achieves success in her father's eyes and hears the words: “I'm proud of you.” 

I love you, Dad! 

Jessica Mendoza #2 

Daddy’s Little Girl! 

The phrase “daddy’s little girl” often implies being a spoiled brat or getting everything you want. While this might be true in most cases, I feel this title can stand for something else, and in my case be absolutely fitting. 

When I was 10 all I wanted for my 11th birthday was a pitching lesson. I begged and pleaded with my dad for one, and he gave it to me. I fell in love with the art of pitching, and together my dad and I embarked on a journey that had no real destination. 

Things started in the backyard, dad on a bucket and me 40 feet away hurling balls everywhere but his glove. As I progressed, we ventured to the driveway. Dad went so far to put up flood lights in the driveway and tarps on the garage door, so we could practice at night. He made it possible for me to practice whenever and wherever I wanted. 

He never forced me to be out in the driveway, but when I was out there he expected perfection. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. His demands were not overbearing, and looking back, he instilled many of the characteristics that have helped me reach the success I have. I wouldn’t strive for perfection myself. I wouldn’t be so stubborn that I won’t quit until I achieve it. He taught me pride and humility when I was in High School after I threw a fit because we lost. 

He has been at countless amounts of games, sat on a bucket for numerous hours in the driveway, and never once has he complained. He’s always been a proud dad. He’s given me the support I need, the criticism I deserve, and the capability to see how far I can go. 

From the backyard to the driveway, from Houston to Austin and from the United States to Athens, my dad has been there every step of the way, giving me everything I ever needed. 

In that regard, I am proud to say I am and will always be daddy’s little girl. 

Cat Osterman #8 

How my Dad influenced my career in sports 

While I must admit it took me many years to be “ready” to publicly give my Dad credit for my success, the wonderful thing is that it happened. After years of my internal battle for independence and resistance to anything my Dad thought was a good idea, I’ve come to fully appreciate my Dad’s influence on my sporting career and the success that has followed. 

My Dad and I always were one in the same, two of a kind. I always wanted to be where he was, doing what he was doing. I was the consummate Daddy’s Girl, a tomboy at heart. Tagging along with my older brother to the ballpark at a young age, my Dad saw the talent that was within my being and found avenues to cultivate my skill. 

He wasn’t sure how to get me to the “next level,” but he was determined to figure it out. What started out as a way for him to spend more time with his little girl, soon turned into something so much more than we could have ever dreamed. Now, two Olympic Gold Medals later, and still neither of us can believe what I’ve achieved. 

He was the visionary, the implementer, the enforcer and the ball-shagger. He was my toughest critic and my biggest fan. I dreaded the car ride home after a game, knowing that a healthy dose of reality was in store. He anticipated great things for me, and watched from the sidelines as they became a reality. 

Can I say I always appreciated his passion to see me succeed? Absolutely not. But did I always know he loved me? Absolutely yes. 

And now when I’m at home with my husband, and he tells me that I’m exactly like my father, I smile with pride. I should be so lucky. 

Stacey Nuveman #33 

My No. 1 Fan – My Father! 

Writing about my father turns the voice in my head into that of a little girl. The man is my number one fan, always in my corner telling me the unbelievable and making me a believer. He gives me confidence and pride, he’s my conscious when I waiver and my reminder to stand up tall and hustle. 

I find evidence of him in all kinds of places throughout my life, he has made me the person I am today, and though it isn’t always pretty, he’ll be the first to defend me. He made me quiet in places where I should be, and thoughtful and boisterous in the strangest and most inappropriate moments. 

The Rolling Stones say it best, “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.” I remember being a little girl on a car ride with him when I first heard this song. He said it was his favorite so I paid close attention. This lesson has been one of the greatest of my life. He tried to teach a 10 year old about grown up things, by way of classic rock. Good Man! 

I remember the day I felt too old to hold his hand; walking through the parking lot it broke my heart because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I remember being a scary teenager that knew everything of life, driving away from home, open road ahead, with my eyes set on the rear view mirror, hoping he would be okay. I remember the day I told him I was moving to the mountains to play and work as a mascot, he left the dinner table early, but came back and wished me luck. 

This man has given me wings to fly, freedom to dream and support to do it all. He’s allowed me to live the kind of life that I love. He preaches this, “Make your own mistakes, live hard, work hard, play hard, celebrate! Laugh only at the funny things. Don’t flatter anyone, stay true to your word but mostly be honest with yourself.” 

For as proud as he is of me, I am equally as proud of him. One of the greatest sources of motivation for me is to never let him down. Thanks for a crazy life, and the passion to live it. Love you papa. 

Jaime Clark #24 

I Thank The Lord Every Day For My Dad 

My dad has always believed in me and thought I was going to be something great, even when I didn’t believe. He has always been the one to push me to be the best that I can be. He always did things right and urged me to do things the right way no matter if it meant taking the hard road. He has put in so much time and made so many sacrifices to see that I succeed in everything I do. He always pushed me but never too far! 

I have to give him so much credit because he always saw the best in me but was never satisfied— he has been the backbone of my career. I admire, appreciate and am so grateful for my father and all that he is to me! I thank the Lord daily for my dad and all that he has been to me! 

He still catches me to this day and is my pitching coach. He knows me better than I do. He is such a great example of how a person should be and for that I love him dearly. His constant advice, love, support and prayers have gotten me to where I am today and I am so grateful. 

He has helped me become a better person, player and teammate. He has helped me in so many ways. He’ll never truly know ALL that he is to me!