Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dara Toman Steps Into Justin's World

Tess Sito (left) and Dara
Apologies for not delivering this piece on Friday, as promised. Officially, it was a bacterial infection that knocked me down for most of last week.

Last Thursday, we featured Dara Toman, formerly of Cleveland State University and the Akron Racers. Today, instead of just the short-and-sweet brevity of a Where Are They Now article, Dara joins us for a full-length interview and dishes on quite a number of topics, including…
  •          How she got started playing softball
  •          How she came to tryout and sign with the Racers
  •          Playing in the pros with college teammate Tess Sito
  •          And MORE

     You can connect to Dara on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

How did you get started playing softball?
I played softball my whole life. My dad has played slow-pitch since he was 20 years old and ever since I can remember, I had a ball in my hands. I played volleyball and basketball growing up,  as well. I was actually verbally committed to play volleyball in college, but then I received an offer from Cleveland State for softball that made me think otherwise. Not to mention my dad was ecstatic- softball was always his favorite!

Who would you call your biggest inspiration and/or role model, both athletically and in life?
Adding to question #1. My dad is my biggest supporter. My parents are awesome people, great role models. I owe any success to them.

Athletically and in life, I've seen my parents overcome any obstacles they have endured. My parents are both deaf, and trust me when I say their hearing is the only thing they are lacking. My father is one of the best athletes (even at 50!) that I have ever seen. And my mother is one of the smartest, hard-working individuals you'll meet. So between the two of them, they encouraged me to excel in sports and in life.

Growing up, was it always your dream to be a professional softball player? When did that enter your mind as a realistic possibility?
When I was growing up, I was the only kid that was close to 6ft in middle school... So not professional softball. But, I had dreams to be the first girl in the NBA. I'm sure I wrote that for my future dream job back in the day.

I loved playing college softball. If I could do it again, I would! I thought about professional softball in the beginning of my senior year. I had a good junior year and I started getting paranoid that my time playing ball was running out. I kept the idea in the back of my mind and I had some conversations with my assistant coach, who knew some information about the Akron Racers. My senior year ended leaving me heartbroken; I could not fathom that I would never play fastpitch softball ever again. (I swear I was depressed for a week). My assistant coach asked me if I wanted her to contact the owner of the Racers for a possible tryout. I immediately said yes! On the scheduled day, it happened to be gloomy and pouring rain at the time I was supposed to "try out". So, after seeing my stats and speaking with me, Joey Arrietta decided to give me the opportunity to be on the roster.

You played with Tess Sito for two years in college, then y’all were reunited on the field with the Racers in 2013. How cool was it to get to play with your old teammate again?
Not only did I play with Tess in college, but she was my best friend. When she transferred to Georgia, I was so happy for her, but at the same time I was sad to see her go and disappointed we lost our best hitter and pitcher! Before trying out, I knew she was on the team so that just made it so much better when I made the team. Lucky for us, we got to room together again! We had a great summer together, on and off the field.

Finish this sentence: If not for softball, I would be a completely different person.
I say that because I probably would have gone to a different college, or maybe not even (college is expensive!). I would have been on some other path and doing something completely different, I'm sure.

What are your plans for the future, both involved with softball as well as outside the game?
Although my professional fastpitch career is over, I can happily say that I have taken every advantage of the experiences and used it for what I do now. I currently play slow pitch for COMbat (a bat company for those of you who don’t know). For like 5 months, I fly out on the weekends to go play slowpitch softball tournaments all over the US with one of the best women's team in the country.

I mentioned earlier that I loved fastpitch softball, but as a hitter and fielder, slowpitch is a whole new level of love. I get to hit around 5 times a game, get an opportunity to field a ball every time a batter is up.

Slowpitch isn’t as easy as it looks. Some of these pitchers have a nasty knuckle ball… and since the arch on a slowpitch isn't flat, it’s a completely different swing. Hard to adjust a swing you've had your whole life! (May be easier than hitting Cat Osterman's curve ball or Monica Abbott's rise ball though)

During the week, I am a video relay interpreter. I interpret calls between the hearing and deaf on a video phone with an ear piece. They're open 24 hours so I can work anytime I want and then travel when I want.

If you could go back and relive or redo one moment or one play, to what point in time would you return?
Hmm, I always say I would never regret or redo anything, because everything I've done has been for a reason and I believe it has gotten me to where I am today. But if I could go back and play college ball again, I probably would. (There’s probably a few balls my freshman year I wouldn't have swung at now that I'm older and know better! Ha!)

Say you were stranded on a deserted island, but you could take three things with you. Boats and phones are off-limits. What would you take?
Ooh tough question!
1. Krispy Kreme doughnuts!  Just kidding, but I would need some food.
2. Can that count as people? If so, probably a friend, family member or my boyfriend.

3. A comfortable bed. Anyone who knows me knows I love to sleep and my bed is the best!

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