Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brianna Turang Steps Into Justin's World

One of the most popular and polarizing players throughout the 2013 collegiate softball season was definitely Oklahoma's star outfielder Brianna Turang.

All eyes were on OU throughout the year, and although Keilani Ricketts and Lauren Chamberlain got the press and the fans, Turang gave fans what seemed to be a season-long clinic on the art of... well, softball. Brianna pretty much excelled in every area of the game, from hitting to fielding to running the bases.

Brianna followed her stellar college career by spending the better part of her summer playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league. She was the third-round pick of the Akron Racers (9th overall) in the 2013 draft, and she joined the team shortly after her collegiate career ended.

Brianna is a very dedicated Christian, and is very open and candid about her beliefs. I've seen a number of videos where she talks about her faith and if you follow her on social networking (links below) there's no-doubt you already knew this.

When the opportunity to interview Brianna arose, I, of course, jumped at it! Opportunities to interview superstars don't come very often, and this was an awesome one! Brianna's been incredibly busy, but she was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions, which just speaks to the great person she is!

Y'all be sure to follow Brianna on Facebook and Twitter @briturang

I would love to hear your testimony and how you came to know the Lord.
- I don’t have a crazy testimony, I lived a pretty normal life without any crazy stories but I needed and I continue to need God just as much as everybody else. I was raised in a Christian home, we went to church every weekend and I had the most awesome family. I grew up loving God but was missing that close relationship with him. I was never a troubled kid, but I had my fair share of bad decisions in high school. I am the oldest of five kids and was born and raised in California. I went to school in Oklahoma so my first year of school was really tough for me. I was a two-sport athlete and I was far from home, which made things hard. I really struggled. I dated the wrong people and I tried to fix my relationship with God but was unwilling to let go of certain things in my life. I finally realized that I was done doing this all alone. I went to a church service my sophomore year of college and God was really tugging on my heart. I recommitted my life and ever since I have noticed that when I give God my full heart, he reveals and unleashes so many opportunities. When I thought things were bad, God remained good. I can literally go on about all of the things God has done in my life, including the man I am about to marry, but that is another testimony in and of itself. I encourage you to let go of the things keeping you from surrendering your full life, just as I did, and hand it all over to God.

Were you always outspoken about your faith, or were you saved for a while before you decided to inspire & empower others with your testimony?
- I was never outspoken about my faith before I got to college. I grew up in a state where that wasn’t a common thing to talk about. It was more of a religion rather than a relationship. As I got into college and moved to Oklahoma I felt like so many more people were willing to talk about it. I was moved by the faith and the confidence people around me had and it gave me more confidence in sharing my faith. It had been something I really prayed about and God lead me and opened up my heart to it.

How does your faith and relationship with God affect your on-field play?
- I take my relationship with Christ into every aspect of my life. Softball is just one of the places I get to learn about God in a different way. He speaks to me through the daily ups and downs of softball. I am a very visual person and sometimes I am in the outfield and get to be amazed by God’s creativity by looking at the sunset when I am playing. God speaks to me and teaches me in the simplest and most fascinating ways.

Describe the 2013 Senior Class in three words.
- Fun. Togetherness. Talented.

Did you feel robbed after the near-miss in 2012, and did that feeling spur you on to try even harder in 2013?
- I don’t think we were robbed. Alabama was a great team and has always been. Both teams were fighting for the same thing and unfortunately God had a different plan than we did. The feeling that this game left us with was used as motivation for next season. It was the greatest learning experience you could have given us regardless of the outcome.

How was the team’s mentality different going into the 2013 season, coming off the stinging loss to Alabama?
- We were unwilling to lose. We were not willing to waste all that we had done to prepare for this moment. We took the pain and the emotion we felt from losing and used it as motivation for the 2013 season. We knew we had the talent, we knew we had the coaching and it was our job to take what we had and use it to the best of our ability. We expected nothing less than a championship.

What one moment maybe stands out to you as the “defining moment” for the Sooners’ 2013 season?
- One moment that stands out to me was when the tornado hit Moore, OK. It was right after we won regionals and a couple days before we hosted super regionals. I cannot begin to explain the emotions, the feelings and the tears that were shed during this time. Oklahoma has some of the most supportive people who have cheered us on through winning and loosing. When this happened we felt it with them. It was the most emotional moment of my life and those days will always be with me. Even through such disaster and loss they continued to support us. We used this moment to give back to our state and use the game we love to bring joy to these people. We were no longer playing for ourselves, we were determined to win it all for them… and that’s what we did.

If you can, describe the feeling after that last out was recorded and y’all were officially the champs.
- It honestly didn’t hit me until after the pitch. Tennessee is such a good team that even with one pitch left, anything can happen. Once that last strike was called I just felt so… relieved. We had worked so hard all season to get to this spot, we had so much pressure on us all year, and having won it at the end was something I can’t really describe. It was an unbelievable feeling. It’s every little girls dream to be in Oklahoma City winning a National Championship and we did it. It was unreal.

How did you first hear about the NPF & decide you wanted to play pro ball?
- I heard about NPF through a couple of former OU players (Amber Flores and Samantha Ricketts). Joey Arrieta (GM of Akron Racers) came to watch me play in the Palm Springs tournament and asked me if I would be interested in playing. My dad played for the Seattle Mariners and I have always dreamt of being like him and this was the chance I could accomplish something he did. I prayed about it and I felt lead by God to continue my career.

What’s the biggest difference between the college game and the pros?
- College ball and the pros are completely different. In the pros you are on your own. We literally do whatever we need to do to get ready for a game. College we are held accountable for the little things. You have to be really self-motivated in pro ball and you have to understand why you are there. Sometimes you get caught up in a bad performance and forget how good you truly are. It’s a different mentality.  

Is it weird playing against Michelle Gascoigne, Keilani Ricketts, and Jessica Shults after four years competing together, side by side?
- Absolutely. These girls were some of my closest friends. They are amazing people and athletes and I wish more than anything we could continue our careers together.

Do you have plans to be involved with the National Pro Fastpitch league past this season?
- Of course. It gives me an opportunity to continue playing the sport that I love.

What would you say is the best part of being a professional athlete?
- Getting to play against and meeting some of the best players in the game.

On the other hand, what would you say is the *worst* part of being a pro athlete?
- I don’t think you can really go wrong with being a pro athlete.

How old were you when you started playing softball? When did you know that this was something you were really gifted at and wanted to pursue into college and beyond?
- I think I was about 6. My dad played pro baseball and my mom played college softball so it was in my genes. I wanted to be just like my parents and God gave me the gift and desire to play, so that is what I did.

Besides playing, what kind of future plans do you have to be involved in the game of softball?
- I want to be able to use softball as a platform to tell others about Christ. I want to use it as a testimony and push young ones to chase their dreams and use the gifts God has given them to further his kingdom.

If you could sit down and have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be and why?
- Gosh, so many people come to mind.  Definitely Jesus Christ. I couldn’t write down all these reasons I would want to have dinner with him. The second person would be David because of the faith he had against the Giant. There are so many “giants” in our life, and with faith like David and the power of God we can overcome them. The third person would probably be Bo Jackson because he is just so awesome.

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