Women’s History Month: Jessica Mendoza (Softball)
Added by Gregg Snyder on March 12, 2012.
We go back to the diamond today as we continue our celebration of Women in Sports here at Double G Sports. We previously talked to softball icon Jennie Finch and today we introduce you to another big name in women’s softball, Jessica Mendoza. Jessica is not only big on the softball scene, she is very much involved in some great foundations involving women in sports.
You’ve been an athlete, and now an analyst and reporter as well. Which has been more difficult for you?
Definitely a reporter. As an analyst, I am sitting in a booth with at least one other person talking the game. It’s as natural as sitting at home on a couch with friends. As a reporter, you are out on an island by yourself and restricted to just 20-30 second hits.
You are also the former President of the Women’s Sports Foundation and still a current co-chair of the Athlete Advisory Panel. Tell us about the foundation and how you got involved?
The Women’s Sports Foundation is amazing because they create opportunities for girls to live healthier lives through sports. I first became involved 10 years ago when I was invited to their annual dinner in NYC. From the first encounter I could tell how passionate they were and all they were doing to make a difference and I knew I wanted to be a part of that.
Jessica is very active in the Women's Sports Foundation
What do you feel are the biggest challenges remaining for women in sports?
Right now, I feel it is the professional leagues. I want to see all the girls and women who love playing sports be able to continue to do that past the age of 22. To make a living doing what you love is a dream that can be a reality for so many boys, the same opportunity should exist for women. There are leagues now (WNBA, WPS, NPF) and I know there is the opportunity for them to continue to grow and be successful.
In your opinion, are female athletes given enough respect?
It depends who you are talking to. You get the guys (and women too) who still see female athletes for their looks first before their talents. The good news is I have seen the stigma of being a female athlete change tremendously. It is cool to have muscles and be fit and workout. Even trendy at times. I love that. More men want to be with women who have played sports or know sports. Where we need more respect is for female athletes to be respected to make a living playing sports, not just when we are kids. We should be able to play until our bodies are done, not because there is nowhere to go.
You are a role model and inspiration to so many young athletes. Who were your inspirations growing up with interest in softball?
When I was young, I looked up to local female athletes; for example the starting shortstop for our high school varsity softball team. She had a younger sister on our rec team and she would come out every now and then to work with us. She was a superstar in my eyes and I think that is so important.
What do you think the state of women’s softball is now, compared to when you started playing?
Softball has grown TREMENDOUSLY in the college game thanks to ESPN and their coverage. With softball being out of the Olympics, there is a drop off in those who participate internationally because funding has now been cut, and that sickens me. But that is where I want the excitement of our college game to lead into our professional league, National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), as it has and will continue to do so.
Jessica is very proud of her Olympic medals from Team USA
Where are you currently at with you playing career?
I play for the USSSA Pride in Florida in the NPF. Our team took second last year and I was the MVP for the first time in my career. Our team had a lot of familiar Olympic faces, check out our roster at www.usssapride.com.
There are two. Winning Olympic gold with a team that was so bonded after a tragedy and being so proud to represent the USA. Playing professional softball as a mom and seeing my two year old son run around after each game with his very own Mendoza jersey!
What would you like to see happen to improve women’s sports, not just softball but in general?
I would like to call out the media: newspapers (local and national), magazines, dot com’s, television, everyone to cover more women’s sports. I truly believe the more people know these girls and women that are playing, the more people will want to watch it, support it and inspire more girls to get active and healthy as well. So don’t get stuck in the same media trendiness as everyone else. Be different and showcase women too. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
What advice can you give a young female that has hopes and dreams of being a professional athlete?
Stop trying to fit in and be like everyone else. Those who are successful found out what was different about ourselves and used those differences to stand out. You will never be more successful than others by doing what is trendy. Do you YOU want to do, what YOU are passionate about and you will find success at all levels.
Jessica celebrating a home run in the World Championships
Check out Jessica’s website, and follow her on Twitter @jessmendoza.
Previous Women’s History Month Interviews:
Tina Cervasio (MSG Reporter)
Jennie Finch (Softball)
Jen Royle (Reporter)
Carolyn Blank (Sky Blue FC)
Chantal Sutherland (Jockey)
Jessica Quiroli (MiLB Reporter)
Brittany Licicome (LPGA)