Cat Osterman is arguably the most popular fastpitch softball player in the world. From her dominant stint as the ace of the University of Texas pitching staff to her phenomenal run on the U.S. National team, Osterman has secured her place among the legends of the sport.
We sat down with her to get her thoughts on the World Cup of Softball III in Oklahoma City, what softball needs to do to become an Olympic sport again and why putting a note card in her shoe gets her ready to pitch.
Tough question first. Where do you keep the ESPY you won in 2005?
My ESPY right now is in my parent's garage. No wait! Actually it was in Austin this last year. It's just kind of house decoration right now.
I've read you quit softball for a brief period of time to play soccer. What brought you back?
I was playing goalie in soccer. And while I was good at it, I was extremely bored. (Laughs) So I just wanted to try something else and softball sign-ups were around the corner. My dad suggested I maybe try it again...so I did!
Even among professional athletes you've been described as unusually competitive. Where did this orginate?
I think being competitive is just something that's in my family. There are plenty of basketball coaches in my family. My dad coached us. And my cousin and I were always out there playing one-on-one. Even though he was bigger and stronger I was always wanting a rematch and trying to compete.
And that famous Cat Osterman work ethic?
My parents. They made it clear if I was going to be doing something I better be doing it 100 percent. If I wasn't going to give 100 percent, than they weren't going to pay for stuff like pitching lessons. So I did. And when you love what you're doing, it's easy to give 100 percent.
You've often mentioned a desire in getting a master's in Sports Psychology. What sparked your interest in that field?
I don't actually know how it got started. But in high school I had an assistant basketball coach who I would visit before every game. And we always made a note card that had my goals of the day, or for that game, written on it. Things such as how many points; how many rebounds; keeping whoever I was guarding from scoring a certain amount of points. Because I'm feisty some of the goals were like not yelling at the refs. (Laughs)
After we were done I would take the note card, fold it up and put it in my shoe. And honestly it really helped me meet my goals. Seeing how talking about your goals actually works got me interested in the psychology of sports.
Any tips for young athletes wishing to improve the mental side of their softball game?
You have to have experience first. That includes failure. You're not going to have success right away. A lot of kids don't understand that. Once we were playing a team from California in travel ball. And I had pitched really well but we lost 1-0. I walked up to my dad after the game crying. And he said, "What's wrong? You pitched really well." And I said, "Yeah, but I need another pitch."
Even though I had failed, I found something I could take away from that. So when we got back I started working on that other pitch. Using failure to find things to work on really puts you on the path to success.