|ESPN.com: Summer of W||[Print without images]|
|An up-close encounter with penguins at the Henry Doorly Zoo was one of the highlights of Jessica Mendoza's trip to Omaha.|
It has been a busy couple of weeks filled with lots and lots of baseball. This was my second year covering the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., and it was an exciting trip on and off the field. In addition to having my husband, Adam, and son, Caleb, with me, my younger sister, Alana, and her husband flew in with their two kids to meet us. They are both Oregon State alums, so when their alma mater made it into the series, it didn't take much convincing.
While we were all looking forward to the action at the ballpark, the kids couldn't wait to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo, which is one of the best in the nation. Since we travel so much, we end up going to a lot of zoos, and Caleb can't get enough of them. Traveling with the ESPN crew was a huge perk. We got the grand treatment and were able to go inside the penguin exhibit and interact with the animals. As we entered, they waddled around us with their wings outstretched, sliding down the icy embankments and showing off. Since the penguins were not much shorter than Caleb, it was a sight to see him and his cousins feeding these gentle and hilarious birds.
We got our fill of birds and baseball in Omaha, and now we're glad to be home. My time in California, however, will be a brief layover since I'm flying out to Boulder, Colo., for the Louisville Slugger Independence Day Softball Tournament in a couple of days. It will include 10,000 fast-pitch high school players, and pretty much every college in the country will be there recruiting.
While I'm there, I'll be giving a talk about what it means to be "beautifully powerful," which is a campaign Louisville Slugger created last year. This is a message that's near and dear to my heart because when I was 14-years-old, I heard Dot Richardson speak, and it totally changed the way I thought about fitting in and being popular. At the time, I was this scrawny little girl who got made fun of, so I was pretty insecure. Dot's words stuck with me and taught me that sometimes the qualities that make you stand out are the same ones that make you unique and beautiful.
The idea of being "beautifully powerful" has greatly affected who I am as a mom, wife, sister, daughter and athlete. I've learned that it's important to have confidence in my abilities and be OK with blazing my own trail. I hope my words will impact a few of the girls the same way Dot's did me when I was their age. After all, for players hoping to get noticed by college coaches, blending in with the pack is the last thing they want to do!
After my quick trip to Boulder, I'll be settling in back at home in Moorpark, Calif., to wait for baby No. 2 to show up. I've been playing softball every summer for the past 25 years, so being a beach girl this time around sounds pretty good. The newest member of our family certainly doesn't hesitate to tell me there are great changes to come. Unfortunately it usually comes in the form of a swift kick in the ribs at 4 a.m. Who knows, maybe this one will end up being a soccer player.