With NCAA post season rapidly approaching, we are fortunate as an organization to have many Firecracker alumni represent us at the next level. Some Play with Honor out of the spotlight and others have the opportunity to dance on the big stage. For each of them, however, competing in college is a dream come true. It took many, many years of hard work and dedication. They failed time and time again, but kept their heads up and pushed through. The successes came because they trusted themselves and trusted that the game would pay them back for all they put into it. And it did!
The University of Florida has quickly become one of the most sought after softball programs to be a part of. It’s easy to see why. They look sharp on the field and THEY WIN! We wanted to get into the mind of one of our own who was on the field last year in OKC and is about to finish her sophomore campaign with the Gators looking to defend that National Championship. As a freshman, Nicole DeWitt was on the field when her team won the title. We asked her a few questions about her experience and wanted to share her answers with you! Enjoy!
1. How does it feel coming off an amazing freshman year, in which you not only won an NCAA championship, but also a junior world championship for Team USA?
It is such an amazing feeling and I could not be more honored to even have the privilege to be in the Florida Gator and the USA uniform. I have always grown up wanting to be able to compete for the National Championship and being in the situation and actually winning it was a dream come true. When we first won I could not believe it and I was not sure how to act, it was like I had no idea what I have been chasing for for 14 years came true. Then not even a week after being back in Gainesville from winning the National Championship, I was on my way to OKC to start training for Worlds. When the time finally came to play against Japan for the championship game, I could not believe it. After winning, there was no better feeling than watching the American Flag rising above the others. To think that I have accomplished two of my biggest softball dreams before turning 20, it makes me excited to think about what else is going to be in my future. Having three more years of college ball, and then hoping that softball gets back into the Olympics I am hoping that there is going to be some more Championships in my future.
2. What did you dream about as a 12 year old girl?
When I was 12 years old, my dreams were to play for one of the best college teams so that I would be able to win a National Championship, and to get the opportunity to wear USA across my chest.
3. What was one of coolest things about winning a national championship at Florida?
I think that the coolest thing that has happened from being a National Champion is just having the experience with such an amazing team and great group of girls. Softball is not something that is always going to be there, but the group of girls that I played with on that team has given me friends and bonds with girls that cannot be broken even without playing softball.
4.What are your goals for the upcoming 2016 season?
This year as a Florida Gator my goals are to help my team out in any way possible. No matter the situation playing or not, I will be there to cheer on my team. Helping my team get back to the WCWS so we can get the opportunity to compete for another National Championship.
5. What did you take away from playing for the Firecrackers that helped you succeed at the college level?
The biggest thing that I took from the Firecracker program is to trust my game and play with honor every single game and practice. Trusting my game and my skills is such an important thing that Tony has taught me. Being able to trust my game allows me to know what I am capable of even when I am in a hitting slump or anything. Playing with honor every single day is something that I take pride in because not everyone is able to do the things that they love and we can sometimes find ourselves taking it for granted. We play for our team and the names across our chest, not yourself and the name on your back.
6. What message do you want to pass on to players currently wearing a Firecracker uniform?
The message that I have for Firecrackers is to remember that this is a game, it is supposed to be fun. Go out and enjoy yourself by having fun with the group of girls that are going to be some of your closest friends for life. If you have a bad game or a bad at bat, don’t let it affect the way you play the next game, or next at bat. Every time you get up to bat think about it as a new opportunity and a fresh start. I know your coaches may yell at you and you may not agree with what they are saying, but always show respect towards them, no matter the situation and trust them. They are only trying to do what they think is best for you and also the team. Just don’t forget, HAVE FUN!
Check out an in-depth interview with Nicole DeWitt about her experiences at the University of Florida. Watch Video