Feb. 28, 2011
CHICAGO - While the UIC softball team may have had the weekend off, idle this past week before returning out to the road for the three remaining weekend tournaments left of the schedule, thoughts of the impending rest of the season are never too far away. The 2011 squad features four new faces, including freshman infielder Jacki Fletcher.
The Lowell, Ind. Native took a moment to discuss team travels and looks ahead to this weekend's return to competition in Oklahoma.
Fletcher made her Flames' debut in Orlando last weekend, serving as a pinch hitter against Delaware and Notre Dame at the UCF Invitational, where she echoed the sentiments of her teammates in regards to the opportunity to play in warmer climates the past two weekends.
"For the infielders to have dirt and the outfielders to have grass and not a ceiling to get in the way, it's really nice to get out on the field," said Fletcher.
The past two weekend tournaments have given the team not just experience playing together on the field, but have experienced an increased level of cohesion within the 16-member squad.
"The team's been getting a lot closer, too," said Fletcher. " Just being with each other on the bus and the plane and rooming with each other...the team is getting along really well. There's been a lot more team chemistry. It's been really good for us."
After a weekend off from competition, the Flames open up the month of March with a four-game stint in the state of Oklahoma, facing the likes of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Auburn.
"The coaches are really good at keeping our heads in the right mindset. Coach V [head coach Michelle Venturella] always says to stay in the moment, and reminding us of things along the lines of the competition will only get harder as we move forward so we just kind of have to have that in our own head. Even when we are working hard, so is our competition."
Getting to know Jacki Fletcher
What's your favorite movie?
Probably `She's the Man'. I just think its really funny and I saw it with one of my best friends, so it always makes me think of that.
What about your favorite book?
Wow, that's tough. I read a lot so there's a lot to choose from....
Now that you've had over a semester to get yourself adjusted, where is your favorite spot on campus?
I hang out a lot with the sophomores on the team, so I would have to say that group's apartment in MRH.
What's your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Probably either Tuscany or Cheesecake Factory.
As a member of the Honors College, you've decided to major in Kinesiology. What led you towards selecting that educational path?
Ultimately, I'd like to go into Physical Therapy and a large reason behind that is because of my sister; she also played college softball and had a bunch of surgeries on her shoulder. When she was going through a lot of physical therapy, she had a lot of therapists who didn't help. Seeing when she finally had good therapists who got her back on the right track and made a big difference showed me that even though PT doesn't seem like that big of an impact, it's really important to the overall healing process.
What is your course load like this semester?
I'm in an exercise psychology class, Chem 112, a Kinesiology Stats class, and my honors college course on Diversity. A lot of the chemistry is similar to what I did in my AP class in high school, so it's a little bit of review, but the labs take up a lot of time. It's really time consuming more than anything. Especially with our traveling, it's really hard to get that stuff done but I make it work by getting a head start on homework when I can.
What is something people don't know about you?
I've always wanted to be a participant on `Fear Factor'. I always thought it would be so much fun! I'm not so much into eating the bugs and animal parts, but the crazy fun stuff you would never get an opportunity to do otherwise. And it can't be super dangerous because everyone's watching you, so I'd love to do that one day.
What is your most prized possession?
I'm a stuffed animal person and sentimental, so I have a stuffed animal from when I was really little, that I have with me in my dorm room.
What motivates you as an athlete?
I'm a little bit of a perfectionist; whether it's for myself or for the team as a whole, I really get motivated once we know our potential to play to it. Be it for me or for the team, once we know how good we are, just to strive to be that every single day.
How is the adjustment from moving from Lowell (located in Northwest Indiana) to Chicago?
I'm only about two hours away from home, so it's not too far. I think the shift from going from rural to urban, because I come from a really small town that has been more noticeable. Like when I first came up here, crossing the roads was totally new. I learned that you have to be super aggressive! It's so much different, but it's been really fun. When people come to visit, you always have stuff to do or places to go. It's nice to go home and have it be nice and quiet or my parents can come and see me, but there's no concern that I'm going to run into them at the grocery store.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you need to have with you?
My phone, for sure...I'd probably want my boyfriend to be with me, and then something for us to do. He's a baseball player, so I guess our gloves so we could have a game of catch.