Thursday, July 18, 2013

1 on 1 with Chelsea Bramlett (Malone)

If we were to create a list of all-time most underappreciated softball players, this young lady would certainly be on it. A four-time first-team All-American and one of the fastest players to ever play the game, she spent her four year career at Mississippi State and I can't think of a better catcher to come out of the Southeastern Conference at any point.

If you still don't know who I'm talking about, go Google Chelsea Bramlett immediately. We'll wait.
Hey, welcome back! You can thank me later for educating you on one of the best players ever. Now let's continue.

Chelsea was the epitome of a five-tool player - she was solid defensively, had a bat that even Jennie Finch would have had trouble sending down, and could run like the Flash. She was certainly not the kind of player you see every day.

Chelsea spent some time as a member of Team USA, but hung up her cleats after her college career ended. I was elated to find out a while back that she elected to pursue a career in coaching and instilling a love for the game in the younger generation. Presently, she serves as the head varsity softball coach at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis.

Chelsea doesn't tweet and her Facebook page is private, so if you'd like to extend well-wishes or a note to a legend, feel free to do so here or on the Justin's World Facebook page and I'll make sure they are passed along to Chelsea.

Why did you choose Mississippi State, and what did it mean to you to represent the Bulldogs for four years?
I chose MS. State because it felt like home. I went there for a visit and it just felt like that is where I wanted to be. Even though I am from Memphis, I’ve never liked the city life. So being out in Starkville, out in practically the middle of nowhere, it was nice not having to fight traffic every day and seeing pastures everywhere you go. I had offers to go to Alabama, Michigan, and other places but they just weren’t Starkville.

Representing the Bulldogs for four years was amazing. Just being out there on that field playing the best of the best every game was a dream come true. I always liked MS. State since I was young but never thought I would have to chance to go there and get an education and play softball.

You hold or are at the top of practically every offensive record at Mississippi State. To what do you attribute your incredible success?
First of all I was extremely blessed and driven. I attribute most of my success to God given talent but I worked hard my entire life. I always knew there was someone out there that was better than me or out working me and I knew for me to beat them I had to use my talent but also work harder. My dad was my backbone. He spent countless hours at the field and in the back yard throwing me wiffle balls and having me work on catching. I owe everything to him because I honestly think he worked as hard as I did most of the time. My family supported me through the entire thing to, without all of them I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.

You are arguably the greatest player to ever come out of Mississippi State. How does it feel to know you’ve left an awesome, lasting legacy on the Bulldog program?
It feels great and honestly hard to believe; I just hope someday my legacy will be recognized. Softball is such an over looked sport especially when you are at a school that isn’t known for winning softball national championships. I just hope that by doing what I did softball will have more recognition and fans.

If you had the opportunity to go back and relive or redo one moment from your career, which would it be and why?
It actually wouldn’t even be in a MS. State uniform, even though I had a ton of great moments. But, the best moment I had was my first summer with Team USA, we were playing Japan for the first time since they beat us in the Olympics. It was a hit and run and I was on third, the girl chopped the ball right by the catcher in play and I went for it. I ended up sliding head first and scoring the first run of the game. Having all of those girls come out and congratulate me and seeing how excited they were was an amazing feeling that I will never forget. That and winning the World Championship in Venezuela was my greatest moments.

You had tremendous success both in the classroom & on the field during your career @ State. How did you manage to keep a balance between the two and achieve such great results in both areas?
As I said before, I have been driven all of my life. I am one of those people who believe that once you decide to do something, you need to do it with everything you’ve got. Academics weren’t any different for me. My parents required me to make good grades in high school and I carried it on into college, even though it was a lot harder sometimes to make A’s in some classes. I literally spent all of my time playing softball and studying. I went to workouts at 5 a.m., went to class at 8 a.m. to around 2 p.m., went straight to practice and workouts from 3-6, hit or did catching drills for about an hour after practice, and then went home and did homework. That was pretty much my routine on a daily basis.

If you can, describe what it was like the first time you put on the red, white, and blue, and stepped out on the field as a member of Team USA.
Honestly, it felt like a complete dream with an enormous amount of pride. I thought at any moment I was going to wake up and nothing was going to be real. To be able to play with legends like Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman, Angela Duran, Lowe, etc. was just unreal. To talk with them and be in the same dugout was something I always strived for but never thought I would be good enough or have the opportunity to accomplish.

Was playing professional softball something you had wanted to do or considered doing?
I considered it but I decided I would rather play for the USA team than play professional. With just a few teams in the league and having to play the same teams over and over again just wasn’t something I really wanted to do. Playing with the USA team, to me, there was more pride and happiness there knowing I was representing my country.

Obviously, you’ve already begun your coaching career; was that a career path that you had always hoped would follow your playing days?
I always kind of knew that was where I was suppose to be. I looked at it that once my career was over I had too much knowledge and time invested in softball to not pass it along to other players. Two of my players from this past year have gone on to sign and play college ball and it’s a feeling like no other, knowing you helped them to get there and they get to live the dream like I did.

Would coaching at the collegiate level be something you’d like to pursue in the future?
I’ve thought about it a lot to be honest. I think if the opportunity came I would have to really consider it. Honestly though, I’m kind of a home body. I like being around my husband and family and having to travel all the time like I use to would be a hard adjustment to make again. But, coaching girl’s in college I think would be fun and exciting.

Your trophy case must be huge to fit all of your numerous awards and accolades! What would you say is the award you are “most proud of”?
I think my four First Team All Americans are the ones I am most proud of. Being only the second girl in SEC history to do that is an honor. Another great thing I have is, as community service I use to send videos of the MS. State football games to two soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan who were huge State fans.  When they came home, they actually found me and had flown a flag in my honor for a day in Iraq. So they had the flag and a certificate put in a display case for me. So, I don’t know, both of those I’m really proud of.

Let’s say you were stranded on a deserted island and could take just three things along with you. Boats and phones are off-limits. What would you bring?
Pillow- because I like to sleep
Dr. Pepper- couldn’t live without it
My wedding and engagement rings

If you could sit down and have dinner with any three people from history, whether currently living or dead, who would they be and why?
Chipper Jones- He has been my favorite player since I was 8 years old.
Mark McGwire- Another player I idolized.
Daniel Boone- He seems interesting and I like to hunt so it would be cool seeing how they use to do it. 

1 comment:

  1. It's so good to see someone finally give Chelsea the recognition she deserves. She was an amazing softball player and I am so glad to hear that she is passing on her abilities to younger players. Awesome article.