Former Team USA softball player Jessica Mendoza will be here at the top of the hour to take your questions!
Here she is!
How upset were you when you heard that softball would no longer be a part of the Olympics?
It was like someone punched me in the stomach. As much as I'm sad for girls in the U.S. I'm more disheartened for girls and players internationally, where the opportunity does not exist to play softball in schools like it does here.
how much have you seen softball grown during your career?
Unbelievable. Just the amount of coverage. Whether it's ESPN, magazines. It's talked about in the mainstream. Softball athletes are household names and not only that, but the talent and the education and knowledge that's out there, you have 10 year olds that can hit the ball 200 feet and you didn't have that before.
How do you feel Title IX has effected your career?
Title IX is 100% behind why I even have a career. The opportunities that it has opened up, scholarship, facilities and most importantly, give girls respect that we deserve to be here, playing just like the boys. Now the biggest challenge is to continue educating others about Title IX so that they have the chances that I've had.
I've heard some people say that they feel Title IX has run its course and there's no need for it any more...what do you think? Is there still a need for Title IX?
I feel like Title IX is still on the on deck circle. I feel like we haven't gotten to the point where it's been truly effective. That's how powerful it can be. It's already done a lot, but I'm excited about the future of Title IX. We're not equal. I don't think the point of Title IX is to ever "run its course" it's to continue to create and provide opportunities that don't exist today for girls.
What's your best memory of playing in the Olympics?
I'm going cliche with this one....but nothing is better than getting a gold medal around your neck and the dog pile that goes along with it.
how are you embracing your post-playing career?
Well, Derrick, I'm still playing. Check me out, USSSAPride.com. Our NPF season is from June to August. I can't hang 'em up yet, Derrick!
What's your next broadcast assignment?
College softball kicks off in March. I can't wait.
Where do you keep your medals?
They used to reside in my lovely sock drawer for the longest time. But now, my husband got a safe that it's in.
I bring them with me a lot to show a bunch of the little girls that I speak and work with. They have their own frequent flier miles.
What kind of work do you do with the Women's Sports Foundation?
With the WSF, our goal is to get girls active, feeling healthy and confident and providing opportunities where they would be none. I was also president from 2009-10 and I still continue to serve on the board of directors and I am one of their active athletes.
I am looking forward to the 2012 National Pro Fastpitch season - when does practice begin? And could you please get traded to the Bandits ;)
Hi Lori! First of all, I love that you follow NPF. Spring training starts early May. I wish it were January. I love the new stadium in Rosemont and I can't wait to play there in August against them. :) Go Pride!
What are the differences between playing on the national team and a professional team?
I feel like the biggest difference is the competition. With the USA team, I felt that we had almost all of the best players in the world on our team, whereas in the pro league all of the best players in the world are split up among all four teams. Every game is a battle.
How much do you think you will miss not playing for Team USA?
I miss it already. It's truly a blessing to be able to have USA across your chest. But I'm also excited to bring more attention to our pro league, where there are even more opportunities for girls to play.
What strengths do you use to motivate you in the ever inceasing competetive fast pitch world? My Daughter is all ears
Knowing that there is someone else out there at this moment that is trying to either beat me or be better than me. The competitiveness that lives within me will always be my biggest strength and weakness. But I know that because of that, I will never lose the motivation to get better.
Which teams do you think we'll see atop the NCAA softball rankings this year?
I think the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 look the strongest still, with Arizona, Florida, ASU, Alabama, and Oklahoma looking to return a lot of studs.
Thanks for all of your questions. Hope you'll watch me this summer with the USSSA Pride. Keep on my Twitter for updates: @jessmendza.