SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: 'Mind Gym' Shapes A Sturdy Mental Game
The BC Softball Team Applies Lessons In Confidence And Resilient Mental Fortitude
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 03:02
Obrest, in the true spirit of Mack and Casstevens’s ACT acronym, doesn’t let the ranking faze her or her team.
Rather, she takes it as a fact of life. She knows that the team hasn’t seen much success since joining the ACC, justifying the last place ranking, and she sees it as her job to change that.
“There’s really no surprises with that. We look at it and move on. We shouldn’t forget where other coaches think we fit in,” she said. “We actually printed out the polls from every year we’ve been in the ACC, always picked to finish last, and put them in the locker room, not to put a negative spin on but just to say, ‘Hey, this is what other teams think of us. Let’s change that.’”
All three, D’Argento, Obrest, and Pandolfo agree that it is ACC play that is the most exciting for the players, as it gives them the most clear chance to establish themselves, and there is a clear record of improvement if they do in fact move up in the standings.
Despite the excitement when it comes to conference play, however, they work to put equal emphasis on regional games that are played on weekdays because, as Pandolfo put it, the games that they play during the week give them the opportunity to prove themselves as one of the best teams in New England.
“SMART Goal Setting: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound”- Mind Gym
Obrest does not expect her team to end up in the world series. The team that, as she said, has seen so little ACC success, is in a long process of building and growing before they can hope to be competitive on the national stage. That does not mean, however, that the team is without goals.
“This year, instead of sitting around trying to figure out how we want to fit or what we want our pitcher’s ERA to be, we came up with the motto ‘find a way,’” Obrest said. “We want to find a way to get back to regionals. That’s our goal.”
The last time BC softball was included in a regional tournament was in 2003, long before any member of the team or the head coach started their time on the Heights.
Pandolfo and D’Argento are eager to make it to regionals in their final year. The only two seniors on the team, they want to be remembered as a class that helped the Eagles emerge in the ACC. They are aware of the importance of their leadership, and readily accept it.
“It’s a big burden, but me and Nic (D’Argento) wanted to establish it early on. We brought it on ourselves,” Pandolfo said.
”You never stop learning in this game.”- Randy Johnson, quoted in Mind Gym
The pair has to deal with a unique set of challenges in that the past two seasons has seen each of them with an injury. Last year, Pandolfo played less than half of the season, and this spring D’Argento is sitting out because of injury.
The two are willing to accept the circumstances and think that they give them an opportunity to lead the team in different ways.
Both of them have had to learn how to motivate a team while contributing directly in play and through their strength while sitting out.
D’Argento is happy to accept her role as one of two leaders on the team, and thinks that the small number of seniors on the team actually gives them an advantage when it comes to leading the team.
“It’s been the two of us the whole time and we have a clear understanding of where we want to take this team and where we want it to go,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can making sure we’re setting a good tone and good examples and we’re holding people to the standards that we want the team to be at.”
“Breathe and Focus … growing anxious, breathe in energy. Breathe out negativity. Breathe in relaxation. Breathe out stress.”- Mind Gym
The team has a long season ahead of them, starting off with a quick succession of tournaments. This last weekend saw the Eagles competing in Chattanooga, TN playing five games. Less than a week later, they will head down to Florida to play in the ESPN Citrus Classic and the University of Central Florida Round Robin.
Between the two tournaments, they will play eight games over the course of six days. Only two days after their last game in Florida, BC heads up to the University of North Carolina for their first ACC series of the year.
Finally, the months of preparation will come into play. Practice, conditioning, and mental lessons combine into an essential skillset to maintain during a grueling two weeks of nearly nonstop play. Obrest is excited for the challenge.
“Our Spring Break trip will be a huge test. We play five teams ranked in the top 25, but that’s how we get better,” she said. “We have to play these teams. Is there a sense of urgency or pressure? Yeah, but you want that. That’s what makes it fun.”