Vanessa Alvarez was a Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention.
With fall ball set to begin on Saturday, CalBears.com caught up with last year’s five freshmen – Vanessa Alvarez, Nisa Ontiveros, Taylor Lee, Khala Taylor and Jasmin Mejia – to find out how their first year in Blue & Gold went. This week we feature Bay Area product Vanessa Alvarez. The San Jose native debuted in the outfield for the Golden Bears at the beginning of 2013 and also saw some time in the circle on her way to earning a Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention.
Check back every week in October to read a new Q&A with one of last year’s freshmen.
CalBears.com: What was your favorite part about your first year of collegiate softball?
Vanessa Alvarez: I would have to say my favorite part about my first year was all the traveling that we did every weekend as a team. The times that we had off the field with each other made the bonds we had even stronger and the team truly felt like a family. And now that I think about it, another part that I enjoyed was playing against old teammates. Playing against past teammates and friends made the game that much more fun and enjoyable. Having bonds with my opponents brought respect and competitiveness to the next level.
CalBears.com: What was your favorite softball game or series this season, and why?
VA: I would have to say that the last game playing against ASU series was my favorite because I hit my first collegiate home run.
CalBears.com: What was your favorite class?
VA: My favorite class was African-American Studies.
CalBears.com: What is the best part about being a student-athlete at Cal?
VA: The support that other student-athletes at Cal give to one another. We all have something in common -- we made it one of our goals to become a student-athlete -- we just did it differently in our own way. We all had our own story, and that was the interesting part.
CalBears.com: What is the best thing you learned your freshman year (either on the field or in the classroom)?
VA: That a mistake or failure, believe it or not, is not the end of the world. Whether it was striking out or not getting the grade you wanted on an essay, we will still live from these things. All I had to do is learn from it and move on instead of feeling bad or angry at myself for a while.
CalBears.com: What are you most excited about for next softball season? What are you looking forward to in your academics next year?
VA: I’m most excited about having the opportunity to be a part of the team another year and reconnecting with the team and getting to know the new freshmen and welcoming them because I was just in their shoes last year.
Academically, I am looking forward to declaring a major and finding out what truly interests me the most.
CalBears.com: What surprised you the most about your freshman year?
VA: How fast the season went. It's crazy to think that my freshman year is over already.
CalBears.com: What was your secret to balancing elite softball with world-class academics?
VA: Staying on top of things, remembering the passion you have to succeed at what you want, and remembering that you are at Cal for a reason. I believe that these thoughts kept me going and always had me feeling the need to keep going no matter what.
CalBears.com: What advice would you give to your new freshmen teammates?
VA: Have fun! Enjoy your freshman year at every moment possible because it will go by faster than you think. Have no “what if’s”.
CalBears.com: What is your funniest or most embarrassing memory from your freshman year?
VA: I still think one of the funniest/embarrassing moments that I had was when Coach threw a spider on me. Let me tell you…I am VERY SCARED OF SPIDERS and I ran everywhere like a crazy lady while I was screaming like a little girl. I had half the team plus coach laughing so hard, and the other half thinking that I was getting kidnapped or something.