March 7, 2011
Making the transition from high school and club ball to Division I softball can be challenging even within the right circumstances. Factor in a knee injury and a team ripe with senior talent, breaking the starting line-up can be exceedingly difficult for a freshman.
So difficult that it can test the will of even the most devoted and talented student-athletes, such was the case with sophomore Jordan Wallace. Although she was a starter up until college, she came to Berkeley without high expectations of continuing that streak because of a knee injury. But, Wallace refused to be a victim of her circumstances. Instead, she learned from them and became a better and humble player and person.
"I entered college injured and had to learn to sit the bench behind some great players," Wallace said of her freshman season. "In all honesty, I think that helped shape me as a player and regain my desire to play this game. All I wanted to do was get on the field and play the game I love."
Throughout the season, she built up her strength and made her case for playing time. Ultimately, she was rewarded with her very first start and eventually making seven starts and playing in 20 games. One of the biggest of those seven starts came in one of, if not the most important game of the season - the Super Regional game when the Bears had to defeat Georgia or end the season. Head coach Diane Ninemire called upon Wallace to fill the designated player position, which provides a bulk of the power at the plate.
"It was surreal," Wallace said. "I am so grateful that Coach had the confidence and faith in me to step up and become a starter in Super Regionals. When Coach gave me that opportunity, I tried to make the best of it and prove to her that I wanted to be a starter so badly."
Flash forward to this season and Wallace is now a staple in the Cal line-up. Starting 12 of Cal's 14 games thus far, Wallace has assumed the role of first baseman. She has five RBI to her credit as well as a stellar .982 fielding percentage. But Wallace is not quick to forget her days on the bench.
"There is no other feeling like hearing your name being announced in the starting line-up," Wallace said. "I will be forever grateful for getting the opportunity to be a part of the California Golden Bear starting line-up."
Her teammates have noticed the Wallace has found her niche.
"On the field, she is very motivated," senior Valerie Arioto said. "Seeing her come back so strongly from her injury is so inspirational. She's one of my best friends. She is always social, energetic, adventurous and artistic. She would do anything for her friends and family."
All in the Family
Jordan is not the first Wallace to play a sport, for her mother, Wendy, played softball at Sacramento State and her father, Melvin, was a San Diego Charger. While Wallace may have been predestined to play softball, it almost didn't happen. A spill-prone child, Wallace grew into an athletic young adult.
"I like to think that I inherited my athleticism from my hard work and dedication because when I was younger, I was so uncoordinated and clumsy, and still am," Wallace said. "However I do think that my parents helped me out with good genes and by throwing a Nerf ball at me until I learned that catching it may stop it from hitting me in the face. So I guess I inherited my athleticism from my parents, it was that or my fairy godmother actually does exist."
While Jordan grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., Cal was never on her radar for she was raised as a Bulldog fan.
"I actually grew up a Fresno State fan because my dad went there," Wallace said. "I had no idea that Cal was basically in my backyard being as I grew up about 30 minutes north of Berkeley. I actually had my high hopes on going to UCLA or LSU from the time I was little. I also considered those schools when deciding on which college to attend, but luckily I chose Cal, which is the perfect fit for me."
In addition to her parents being strong and positive influences in her life, Wallace also looks to her younger sister for a role model.
"Aside from my parents, I would have to say that I admire my little sister," Wallace said. `She takes each day as it comes. She is a beautiful person inside and out. She is my best friend and my rock. Sometimes I think she is really the older sister trapped in the younger sister body. She is someone I can always count on."
The Cal Sisterhood
While making the transition to college, Wallace benefitted from her teammates. When asked what her favorite of being a Bear is, aside from being part of the storied Cal program, Wallace answered traveling with her teammates. Each season, the Bears travel each of the first seven or so weekends to tournaments, held in various locales ranging from Davis, Calif. to Hawaii to the desert in Palm Springs, Calif., and Tempe, Ariz.
"We spend a lot of time on the road in the beginning of the season and it gives me a chance to spend quality time with my teammates," Wallace said. "The bus rides, team dinners and having a new roommate each weekend are fun and exciting. Not only do we get to travel and see new places, we also get to spend time with the women we consider to be our family. What better way to live life than to spend it with the people you love and care about the most, traveling and winning??"
As much as she loves traveling with her Bears, Wallace won't go on a road trip without two important things.
"I can't go on road trips without my coloring books and stuffed dog named PupPup," Wallace said. "Fans also might not know that my iPod is full of country music."
When traveling, the Bears and the coaching staff are sometimes privy to the vocal styling of Wallace, and a teammate or two.
"If I could be on a reality TV show I would be on `American Idol' because of my amazing singing abilities," Wallace said. "I would sing a duet with Valerie Arioto and win over America's heart."
Off the Field
When she is not playing softball, you can find Wallace doing a myriad of things.
"In the offseason you can catch me either on the beach or lake trying to even out my farmer's tan," Wallace said. "I also like to spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy going on road trips, cruises and Disneyland. I am not a huge sleeper and I am always very active so my off days during season usually consist of shopping my little heart out, getting my nails done, class and getting in a little extra cardio to clear my mind."
As far as a career goes, Wallace is an intended American studies major with a focus in health, sickness and disease with hopes of becoming a nurse. That was not always the case with the Vallejo, Calif., native.
"As a child, I was interested in a plethora of occupations," Wallace said. "My most desired was probably the Pink Power Ranger. I was convinced that I was going to grow up to be Kimberly the Pink Power Ranger until I was about 10, when that became `uncool.' I wanted to be Britney Spears. I had a lime green jumpsuit like her red one in `Opps, I Did It Again' and wore it all the time singing her songs. When I realized that was unrealistic at about 13, I decided I wanted to be a nurse, which is what I am still pursuing."
Wallace did not out grow that wonderful sense of imagination. When asked what she sees herself doing 10 years from now, the sky was the limit.
"In 10 years I see myself shopping in Milan, riding a camel in Egypt, climbing trees with koala bears in Australia and eating sushi with Jackie Chan in China," Wallace answered. "I see myself traveling the world and doing the things I could only dream up in my wildest dreams."
The sky is still the limit for Wallace, who is set for a weekend in the setting of her father's glory days at Fresno State.
Just for Fun
CalBears.com: What was your first impression of Berkeley? Has is changed?
JW: My first impression of Cal was, `Ohh man that is the weird school with all the nerds.' Berkeley is always changing and I never know what to expect on a daily basis. I may walk on campus and see someone riding a unicycle or dressed in a Superman costume. Berkeley never fails to surprise me.
CalBears.com: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what is it?
JW: I have an exceptional singing voice. However I specialize in shower singing only.
CalBears.com: With whom would you most want to be stranded on a desert island?
JW: If I could be stranded on an island with anyone I would probably say Reggie Bush or Derek Jeter, but realistically I would say I would want to be stranded with my best friend Cameron. Not only would he be able to make the best of the situation of being stranded, but he can reach all the pineapples and bananas that I wouldn't be able to reach without a ladder.