2013 CSUN Softball Blog: Brianna Elder, Sophomore Pitcher

Jan. 27, 2013 --- Brianna Elder, Sophomore Pitcher

Hi Matador Fans! My name is Brianna Elder, but I go by Bre. I am a redshirt sophomore from Concord, California which is in the Bay Area. I am a pitcher here on the softball team as well as a motivator. I have had an awesome experience so far on the softball team as well as conquered many personal challenges.  I come from an amazing family that has supported me throughout my Matador Experience. Moving from my family has been no challenge for me because with my parents being divorced, I have had to live away from each parent at some point in my life. My Mom, Cindy, lives in Peachtree City, Georgia with my Step dad Bill, my sister Courtney, My step brother Ben, and Step sister Kate. The distance plays a toll on our communication at some points, but keeping the lines of communication open is a skill that I carry on the field with me as well. My Dad lives up in Concord with my Step mom Kathy, Step Sister Danielle, and Step brother Garrett.

I am the youngest of them all.  The distance is nice at some points but I do get home sick from my family and that is when Skype and phone calls are important.

In my free time, I usually am a Netflix addict or in the training room.I have had three hip surgeries in the past 2 years making me a VIP in the training room. I always joke with our Trainer Mandy that I should have my own table with my name on it. I have not let surgery keep my spirits down. I work hard everyday before and after practice to keep my legs feel back to normal. When it is time to give my legs a rest, I turn on Netflix. I have watched and re-watched Desperate Housewives about 4 times now and each time it has kept me on my toes.  Recently, I just got a kitten. Her name is Mila Katniss, combining the actress Mila Kunis with the actress Katniss from the movie The Hunger Games.

She is definitely teaching me patience, compassion, and she never lets me leave my apartment without a smile on my face. My roommate is actually Leah Hennessy and she is my bestfriend from Concord. Her and I met when we were 4 years old on a softball field and we have been friends ever since.  She decided to get the kitten and it has been a great choice every since.

Being a part of the CSUN Softball team has taught me so much about myself. I know a lot of the girls say that, but I believe that being a part of the team is my favorite part. I love coming to practice early in the morning and putting a smile on all of the girls faces. I am known on the team to constantly be weird and outgoing. I like to make people smile and I believe that motivating my teammates comes naturally to me.  We work hard each and every day at practice and we are extremely excited for this upcoming season.! We are going to accomplish so much this season, so make sure youre there to witness the magic.

Dec. 6, 2012 --- Sydney House, Sophomore Infielder

Hey there! My name is Sydney House and I am a sophomore here at Cal State Northridge studying Recreational Tourism Management. I play first base and have recently been taught how to catch(which has been a super exciting experience). I was born in La Crescenta California, only about twenty minutes away, and have lived there all nineteen years of my life. My mother and my father love the close distance and come to all of our games. Even though my brother goes to school in San Diego its so nice to be only two hours away from him also. My mom and I are super close, so being able to jump home for dinner one night of the week or go shopping with her one afternoon is such a privilege.

My mom, dad and I go to Disneyland all the time and its no nice to have those few hours to unwind with my family and fill them in on my crazy busy life. We also have a new addition to the family. My whole life I have grown up with Pug dogs and these last few years we have not had any animals except a cat. So just the other day, my dad surprised my mom and I with a new puppy! We haven’t decided on a name yet but this little nugget is as cute as it gets.

I went from being just a bike ride away from campus my freshman year to now being a ten minute drive away in a house with six girls. My freshman year I started my college experience in the dorms with three other freshman on the team. Crystal, Serena, Abby and I all moved in to the suite style dorms with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and two rooms. We had a great year together, went through our ups and downs, experienced it all, and developed our “biker gang.” I also got the privilege to finally learn how to ride a bike so I could get everywhere. On top of this I developed a friendship that I know I will hold through my entire life. Abby and I were not only teammates, we were friends and roommates.

The simplicity of the dorms was soon replaced my next year with a whole different style of living. Abby and I were going to move into a house with four other girls on the team about ten minutes away. We could’t wait. A whole new experience that made us truly feel like we were growing up. I was getting the opportunity to make a deeper relationship with four more of teammates. I got to style another room, and share half of it with my best friend. So far everything has gone great, and I’m loving it all. Everybody gets along and we have our own schedules so we aren’t around each other too much.

Growing up has become the hardest part of being a Matador. I have had to make so many decisions on my own that some one had made for me in the past. I love the independence that comes with it and being able to express my individuality. One weird fact about me is that I love sloths. Last year a few girls and I would look up sloth videos while we were traveling, and laugh so hard. Its times like these that I know I will cherish for the rest of my life. The memories that I made last year are some of the best that I have had in my entire life.

Season is creeping up on us and I can’t believe that the fall semester of my sophomore year is coming to an end. Only two more fall semesters and three more seasons left, and then its time for the real world! But, even though its so close, I know that my preparation here will be enough for me to have a very successful life.

I’m so excited to see how hard this team is going to go this upcoming season. Everyday we go out and we compete with each other and push ourselves to be the best. We all want it so much and I have never been on a team that has been so positive with one another. My teammates mean the world to me and I am so blessed to have had this opportunity that so few people have had in their life. 

October 9, 2012 --- Jennifer Tyler, Sophomore Pitcher

My name is Jenny Tyler and I am a red-shirt sophomore pitcher/hitter/ UT that transferred from Northwestern University in the beginning of this semester. I was born and raised in Glendale, Arizona. I have two older sisters; Stephanie and Christina.

As a transfer student to Northridge my experience is a lot different then is it for the incoming freshmen such as Sammy. I have two years of softball under my belt from Northwestern and I had the experience of living in the dorms, being across the country from home, and becoming independent. Northridge allows me to continue to do those things but also the chance to be closer to my family, be in weather that you don’t need 4/5 layers just to walk to class, and a new opportunity to help the teams win a national championship. 

Growing up, my life wasn’t as typical as most. My sisters and I are all only a year apart and grew up playing club soccer and softball. When I got to middle school, my parents couldn’t handle all three of us doing both at the same time; there are only two of them!

We all chose to put our energy into softball. I was fortunate to be in high school with my oldest sister Stephanie for 2 years and Christina 3. If that wasn’t enough, my mom also taught math at the same high school! My mom isn’t the type of mother to be overbearing and strict, she is actually very laid back and was that teacher that was every student’s favorite teacher. It might seem too much to have almost my entire family fully involved in my high school experience but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My sisters and I all did cross country, soccer, and softball. I lettered in all three sports my freshmen year so I was on a team with my sisters all year every year. My dad is the typical guys guy. He will go to the gym and lift and play basketball all night. That’s what makes it so humorous that he ended up with all girls. He did have us lift weights and play basketball every day before school starting in fourth grade though.

There are other parts of my life that are also outlandish. Many people also don’t know that I am an ordained minister. Before my freshman year of college, my sister was expecting to have a baby and I was her birthing coach. Maybe a week before she was going to give birth, we were watching Degrassi and one of the characters performed the marriage ceremony for their best friends. My sister being abnormally emotional and hormonal asked me to become an ordained minister so I could one day to that for her. I got the certificate online and I now can be called a minister, educator, healer, or a reverend. I have yet to perform any actual ceremonies but am eagerly waiting for my first one. What always puts a smile on my face is seeing my energetic niece, Brooklyn Tyler.

This week we are finishing up our last week of individuals before we get after team practices next week. The Matadors stepped it up in their runs this week making all 10/10 shuttles on Thursday which is a step in the right direction and already marks the improvement and hard work everyone is putting into not only practice but on their own time to get across that line. With Coach Bear now in full swing with practice this week we have been taking full advantage of her All-American pitching and have been taking batting practice on the field. As much as I love refining my swing in the cages, nothing feels better than seeing the results on the field with such a respected pitcher throwing to you. All in all, this week of individuals, weights, and conditioning has pushed and prepared everyone to get after team practice next week.

In our team session this week we analyzed the term for our phase 1: compet’n. Not just competing on the field but how it is just as important to compete in the locker room, weight room, class room, and within the community. Our team is already great at competing against each other but we are really reiterating how important it is to constantly compete and be prepared for all elements of life to grab the Big West championship. To express our strengths and a specific competitive trait we bring to the table, each player is going to bring a tangible item that symbolizes their trait. Everyone is hyping up her item and there is already competition for who will bring the best item. 

September 30, 2012 --- Samantha Jakeway, Freshman, Catcher 

Hi guys! My name is Samantha Jakeway and I have the privilege of writing to you all as part of our 2013 blog! I am a freshman this year at CSUN and I proudly wear number 14 as a new member of Matador softball. I am a catcher and have been since I started playing in my hometown, Temple City, here in California about nine years ago. I am a self-proclaimed nerd and my major is Engineering Management! Woo hoo! 

Okay, so this week has been totally crazy! It is our first full week of workouts since we started school and let me tell you, whoever decided to say the life of a college student-athlete is hard was oh so very right! What a schedule! It’s definitely a fun one though. Its kind of hard to remember to make myself go to sleep at a decent time so that six am weights don’t seem so bad, but with homework and taking care of myself, time gets away from me pretty quickly if I don’t watch out. 

So far I like having weights and conditioning in the morning, I feel accomplished and like I’ve gotten things done. I mean really, what 18 year old can say that the hardest part of their day is done before 8 am? I love the adrenaline that gets running through me; it jump-starts my day, literally. Right now we are in the middle of individual practices, so after my early morning pump up I help catch the pitchers when they do their workout and then Mikayla Thielges and I get some one on one time with the coaches.

We did a little bit of everything this week in our individual. Some throwing drills, some blocking, a few bunt defense drills and of course hitting. It is a lot different from travel ball practices because, even if there were some drills put aside here and there for catchers, there just wasn’t the time to focus on catchers skills at a team practice, nothing like here at CSUN! It doesn’t hurt that we have all access to such a great facility either. I feel so spoiled having everything I need right at my fingertips! I just love it!

Part of being a freshman for me is being away from home and taking care of myself for the first time. I am a huge Daddy’s girl and my Momma and I are best friends so staying away from home isn’t easy. Momma and I have tried to Skype each other a couple of times, but since she doesn’t quite understand the concept of pointing the camera at her face, I have had several conversations with the top of her head. As pretty as it is, you can only tell a clip full of hair about your day for so long. Thankfully, it is only a short 40-minute drive to see them.

I have a little brother, Maxx who is 13. He just got a new kitten who we very appropriately dubbed Kamikaze, Kazi, for short. This flying feline is an adrenaline junkie if I have ever seen one! There is no table to high or gap to far for this kitty; she’s going for it! We have one of the sweetest dogs anyone could ask for, guaranteed to be waiting with her nose in the door for me to come through the door. My little white fluff ball is named Francesca, Frankie for short, and she is a Bichon Frise.

It makes this whole experience a lot easier to be able to run home and share my stories with them and eat Momma’s amazing cooking without having to heat up the frozen portions she makes me in the microwave. (It’s just not the same.) Even though it is definitely a plus being able to focus on my homework or get in some extra sleep while Momma makes food, I have been pretty good about eating at a decent time every day and making sure that I have my little ‘to-go’ packs of food for between practice and classes. Its fun to wake up and have everything done the night before so all I have to do is grab and go! I make a little game out of it and I never go hungry! Living away from home has made me much more organized since I have to think so far ahead of time to make sure I am prepared for the next day.

I am loving the dorms! They are great! I have met lots of new people who I automatically have connections with. (Turns out all of us dorm residents really are going through a lot of the same stuff, who would have thought?) The first week of living in the dorms everyone was excited to meet new people everyone was having people over and throwing parties. It seems like the initial excitement of ‘yay! It’s college!’ is calming down now. Things are settling down and people are getting into the grooves of their day-to-day routines. I am starting to recognize people around campus more and more and am developing relationships with my classmates and fellow bikers around campus. I was thrilled to learn that I was not the only one who had trouble unlocking my bike lock, even if I do unlock it about 10 times a day. It’s a tricky little sucker! 

So, I have to make a little confession. I am a closet cowgirl. Yes, I have the huge blingin’ belt, the flannels, I am a regular at my favorite country dance club, and of course the boots (which I rocked at senior prom!). I love to learn new line dances and practice tricks with my dance partner. We love showing off our two step and wowing the crowd with our down home country moves. Boot scootin’ clears my head and has made me a lot of good friends. I’ve even recruited some of the girls on the team to come and give it a try with me! I can’t wait to take them and show them more of what makes me tick. After all, these girls are my new sisters and bonding is always a blast! They love to have fun and I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to be on a team with! 

September 7, 2012 --- Mia Pagano, Senior, Pitcher/Outfielder 

I guess I should start this off by introducing myself and this blog.  First off, the Cal State Northridge softball program has decided to start a blog the 2012-13 year for fans, alumni, recruits, parents and anyone else wanting to get a little insight into our season.  Each week another Matador will update the blog with some background about themselves, what we did that week and hopefully you guys get more of a sense of who we are as student-athletes.

So, a little about myself. My name is Mia Pagano, and I am a senior on the Cal State University Northridge softball team.  I am a pitcher and outfielder, and just in case you still can’t find me, I wear number 11.  I will be graduating in the spring with a degree in history and a minor in psychology.   I have played softball my whole life, and on top of that,  I have a whole family history of the sport.  My mom played bobby socks when she was younger and my grandparents served as her coaches.  My dad played slow pitch and now umpires in his spare time.  My two older sisters (Tiffany and Bridgette) pitched and graduated from Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State, respectively.  Now they are both coaching. My younger brother also tried baseball for a bit. So softball is a pretty big deal in my family. You can see it has always been a constant in my life, and when my sisters don’t have games and my dad is off, they make their way up to Northridge to come watch me play.

Family has been the biggest support system for me throughout my career.  I always strived to be like my sisters, as good of a pitcher as Tiffany and as athletic as Bridgette, but I will never admit that to them.  I was lucky because I always had someone to look up to and I was able to see firsthand what it took to make it to the big leagues.  My mom was always about scorekeeping and practice.  She kept me on track with that old saying, “practice makes perfect.”   

My dad knew all the rules of course, but the biggest thing I learned from him was how to stay focused but still enjoy the sport.  His love for the game just wore off on me.  My brother was the biggest trooper through it all.  He has been around the softball field since he was two and always looks so thrilled to be there. 

But once I came to CSUN, I found a new family on the field in addition to the one I had in the stands.  The girls I practice, played and lived with became my family.  I could go through the list of great people on our team and what they mean to me, but you guys just have to wait each week and see for yourself.  I have spent countless moments with these girls and have the best of memories because of that.

I came to CSUN in the fall of 2009.  I was ambitious and ready to make a name for myself.  That was the mindset of our team that year, and we proved a lot of people wrong.  The best part of that entire season was watching my friend Kristin Mihm go in to pinch hit against the Oklahoma Sooners, a nationally ranked team, and drop a game-winning home run. 

The next season, I had the most amazing surprise.  January 8, 2011, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Bentley. When you come to our games this year, you’ll probably see her running around somewhere, with half my family chasing after.  But, I did not want to skip a beat, so I worked had to come back that season, and pitch in conference. 

My favorite moment that year was when I threw my first complete game in college against Pacific.  I ended up throwing a two hitter and we won 5-3.  And this past year, although a lot of people might think my favorite moment was wearing my boot around for a couple months, it was more about two games.  Our first win of the season against Iowa was completely amazing. I have to throw in my very first college home run, a game-winning grand slam, in a game where I also tossed a two-hit shutout at Cal Poly.  That was pretty exciting for me too. 

Over summer I stayed up in Northridge for the most part.  I had surgery on my right ankle (NO MORE BOOT) and have been rehabbing it back.  I’m almost back to normal.  This year coming up though, I am full of optimism, high hopes and the drive to MAKE AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN.

To catch you guys up, we have been in school for a full two weeks now, and just finished our first week of practice.  We have had a lot going on this week, but I will let you take a look at some of our routine. With weights and conditioning at 6:30 a.m., you will find me tucked into bed by 9:30 p.m. every night when I don’t have class.  BUT, 6:30 is so much better than the 5:45 we had to do last year.  The sun is actually coming up when I pick up Bre (Brianna Elder) and Lee (Leann Lopez) for morning workouts, and now we recently added a guest.  Mandy Mlozdik, our athletic trainer, comes and supports us in the wee hours of the morning and even pumps some iron when we’re in the weight room.  OH! And, I almost forgot.  We had our conditioning test on the first day of practice and EVERYONE passed! I was stoked because everyone did fantastic! 

One thing that was kinda awkward was the bod pod.  For those of you that do not know, the bod pod is a big egg shaped machine that you sit in for about a minute, and it measures your body mass, your lung capacity and a bunch of interesting things.  It is very claustrophobic, makes your ears want to pop, and you have to wear a swim cap.  BUT,  the good news is that our entire team "bod podded" and with those measurements, we meet with a nutritionist, and see how we can improve areas of our health like muscle mass and overall fitness. We also got all of our new gear for the year, thanks to MIZUNO, and our feet are light with our running shoes and we look fresh. 

One event we attended was the president’s picnic on campus.  Our entire team, along with other CSUN student-athletes, wore red to this event where we got free food (courtesy of our faculty members), good music, massages and free cups.  We met our new school president (Dr. Dianne Harrison) and even got to snag a picture with her.  Then there was the freshman convocation.   I am on SAAC (student athletic advisory council) and every year we help welcome the new freshman athletes by doing an icebreaker before the convocation.  We go into small groups, play games like Ninja and Vroom, and help the freshman make friends with student-athletes on different teams. 

Then we head out to the convocation, where the entire incoming freshmen at the CSUN sits in front of the library to see what it feels like to be graduating.  This is a ceremony where all the deans of each department are present, the president welcomes the new students and the students are able to set the goal of graduation.

We also went to support our women’s soccer team that faced off against Tennessee, who carried a national ranking into the contest.  They went into overtime and ended in a tie, but it was a great game.  They have another game this Sunday that many people on our team will be attending to show support.  After the Tennessee game, we headed to Matador Nights.  It was an event that is put on by the Associated Students with free food, a dance party with a DJ, games and prizes.  It ran late into the night and the team had a lot of fun at the event.

Our team does tons of things together, from lifting in the morning to going to games at night.  You would think we would get tired of seeing each other so much, but we never run out of things to say.  Like I said before, this is our family.