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NPF FACES IN THE CROWD

NPF FACES OF THE CROWD: JESSICA WILLIAMS


It’s tough to put my softball playing days into words.  I have nothing but wonderful memories of my journey.  I do know I would not be where I am today without the help of my family, coaches, and teammates.  So I will start off with my older sister Leslie.  She is the main reason I picked up a bat.  She is 2 years and 9 months older than my identical twin sister, Amanda, and me.  She played t-ball when she was 5 years old, so we were around it at a very young age.  So at the age of 5 years old we signed up for our first year of softball and it hasn’t slowed down since.  At that time in Georgia, softball was slow pitch.  Fast pitch would not reach the Atlanta area until the time of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.  So for 7 years I played slow pitch.

I was always one of the smallest, so from the start my Dad and Mom, Bryan and Cheryl, encouraged me to never let anyone out hustle or outwork me.  My dad always stressed fundamentals and knew it was going to take a great deal of hard work and dedication to be the best, something I always wanted.  My twin and I were very competitive with each other, and that helped in my development as a player.  Whether it was coloring, doing cartwheels, or playing on the ball field, we always begged our parents to tell us who did better, or who was the best.  Amanda has been my number one fan along the way and I know I could not have accomplished all I have without her.

Making the transition from slow pitch to fast pitch was not easy, but all of my coaches knew the future was in fast pitch and not slow pitch.  Slowly but surely we all began to develop a passion for the game.  We became a part of the East Cobb program where I was blessed to have some wonderful coaches. We started traveling to some big time tournaments.  14 and under marked our first ever trip to Nationals in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  From 14 to 18U we placed in the top twenty every year with finishes in the top ten two different years. 

Not only had I wanted to always play division 1 softball, but I wanted to do so alongside Amanda, and we both wanted to receive full athletic scholarships.  Shonda Stanton at Marshall University was able to give us that. Those marked some of the best years of my life.  I am so thankful for the teammates I was blessed with.  We were able to win multiple championships and make lifelong friends along the way.  I learned so much about the game, and what it truly meant to be a student-athlete.  I was fortunate enough to be drafted into the National Pro Fastpitch league my senior year.  Only 28 seniors were allowed to be drafted at the time, and Amanda and I were drafted to the Chicago Bandits.

I am now about to embark on my 5th year in the National Pro Fastpitch League and the second with the USSSA Florida Pride.  Throughout my experience in the league I have had the opportunity to play alongside Olympians and some of the best players in the game. This 2010 season will be nothing short of that with 6 Olympians on our roster.  I am so excited about this once in a lifetime opportunity.  I want to do my best to contribute to such a wonderful organization.   With that said, I am still learning and having fun playing the game.  I am not sure when I will hang the cleats up for good, but I do know it will be one of the hardest days of my life.

I have so much appreciation and love for this game, and I know that softball will be a part of my life for a long time.  After spending one season as a coach, I knew I found something I wanted to do forever.  I had a wonderful collegiate experience, and I feel every student athlete should feel that same way.  I’m going to do my best to create a positive atmosphere that will win championships, and develop champions in life.

The work ethic my parents encouraged me to have when I first started this game helped get me where I am today.  I hope that when it is all said and done, and I look back on my softball career, I will know that I gave it all to something that has given me so much!  I have been lucky enough to travel and play in 31 different states and 2 countries.  The game has brought me friends, wonderful memories I will never forget, and even an amazing boyfriend.  I honestly have been so blessed throughout my career and I owe it to God.  He is my personal savior and I am so excited to see what He has in store for me because I know my journey is not over; He’s just getting started!


-Article pulled from USSSA Magazine by Rick Phillips, USSSA Metro Phoenix Director