I noted a press release exactly a week ago, coming from the University of Florida. It announced the members of the 2014 UF Athletic Hall of Fame inductees, and one of the names mentioned was familiar. Jenny Gladding, former Gator softball assistant coach and one of the best to ever put on a Florida softball uniform will be a part of the class of 2014.
Gladding played for the Gators from 2003-2004, after transferring from Arizona. In just two years, she practically rewrote the school's record book, including setting career records for opponent's batting average and strikeouts per game. She was a two-time all-SEC selection, as well as an NFCA All-Region nomination in 2003.
When asked how she reacted to the news of her induction, Gladding had this to say: "I was pretty much speechless and then I got pretty emotional. It really took me by surprise. It was never really something I had ever thought about. It was a complete surprise." She added, "It really is a crazy thing to think that I am being honored with such an elite group of athletes. I really never felt that I can compare to them."
While the induction of a player who spent just two years at the school is not unheard of, it is rare, so Gladding's impact and legacy on the Gator program is evident and obvious.
She followed her playing career with coaching, including as a Gator assistant from 2007 to 2012. Now a high school softball coach, she's passing on her love for and skills and knowledge of the game to the next generation of players.
Gladding added a statement of gratitude, saying "I just want to express how honored and grateful I am to be part of the history of Gator Softball, and most importantly part of the incredible Gator Nation. University of Florida has given me so many opportunities in my life and I am forever grateful and proud to be called a Gator."
The 2014 UF Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on Friday, March 7, at 6 p.m. in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Please contact Gator Boosters at (352) 375-4683 x 5000 for information on attending the 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Banquet. To express your congratulations to Jenny Gladding, you can find her on Twitter @JennyGladding