Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brittany Clendenny Steps Into Justin's World

When you think of the Boston University teams that reached the regional round in 2012 and 2014, one of the key names many people will remember was that of shortstop Brittany Clendenny.

A four-year starter with two all-conference first-team nods and two Scholar Athlete All-American nominations in her final two seasons, Clendenny was a vital part of the Terriers' postseason berths, and had a big part in the team's 2014 postseason success, when they eliminated Louisville and came within an inning of sending LSU home, as well. Clendenny's two-run home run provided the last offense for BU in the game against the Tigers, before the Bayou Bengals rallied for the eventual win.

Clendenny has worked administratively since graduation, but is now hoping to jump into the coaching world full-time. Continue reading as she shares more on that ambition; memories from her career; and much more.

Justin’s World: How did you get started playing softball?
Brittany Clendenny: I started playing softball when I was about four or five years old. I tried a couple of other “sports” – soccer, gymnastics and figure-skating… gymnastics and figure-skating were mom’s suggestions, obviously! But those were quickly out the door. It was when I was nine that my summers began to be consumed of travel softball and being on the road every weekend, and I never turned back. We (Fire-N-Ice) won the National Championship (2004) when I was 11, probably one of the best-coached teams I had ever played on prior to college. I also played a little bit of volleyball on the middle school and high school teams. My volleyball coach once asked me at tryouts my junior year of high school, “What sport do you like better, volleyball or softball?” I looked at him like he was crazy and said, “Softball…!” I always had a special love and passion for softball.

Justin’s World: What is your favorite memory or moment from your career?
Brittany Clendenny: My favorite memory from my playing career would be when we went to the University of Arizona for NCAA Regionals last May (2014). Having the opportunity to play on ESPN in primetime and show the country that our program could compete against some of the top teams in the country was unforgettable. We played Arizona in a tough game in front of their home crowd on Friday night, before beating Louisville and playing LSU in another great game on Saturday. I was fortunate to be able to close out my career with a homerun in my last at bat, which I didn’t realize until one of my friends from back home texted me on the bus ride back to the hotel!

Justin’s World: Is there one experience you wish you’d have had or a goal you wish you’d been able to reach during your career, either personally or with your team?
Brittany Clendenny: I wish that we could have reached NCAA’s in all four of my years at BU. My sophomore year (2012) we were selected as a 3-seed at the Cal-Berkeley regional, which would be my second favorite softball memory. My freshman year we were one win away from an NCAA berth and my junior year we were banned from the America East tournament because of a conference change to the Patriot League. Post season is by far the best part of the softball season and I wish that I could have had that experience in both my freshman and junior years as well!

Justin’s World: In 2013 and 2014, you were on the Scholar-Athlete All-America team; it can often be tough to maintain a high-level playing career and great academics at the same time. What did you have to do to make it work so well for you?
Brittany Clendenny: It didn’t come quick or easy. I struggled in the beginning to get a grip on how to be successful in the classroom and on the field at the same time. At BU, the athletic department really strives on success in the classroom as being just as important as your success on the field. With the help of my advisors, professors and coaches, I was able to grow my time management skills and utilize the resources the athletic department gave its student-athletes. A typical day at BU: 9am-2pm in the classroom, 3-4 p.m. in the weight room and 4-6:30 p.m. on the softball field. That leaves you four hours to get treatment, eat, get your work done and get adequate rest – the quicker you learn to use your time efficiently, the quicker you will find success academically.

Justin’s World: Is collegiate coaching an avenue you’d like to pursue? Has coaching always been your career goal? What is something unique you think you’d bring to the coaching game?
Brittany Clendenny: My goal is to get into the college coaching profession as soon as possible! After deciding to work in a conference office, I have realized there is something missing… getting out on the field at the end of the day! Every summer while I was in college, I was an assistant coach for my hitting coaches’ travel team (Vienna Stars & New Jersey Intensity), so I have always had a passion in coaching. There is always a sense of fulfillment leaving the field after coaching a practice or game, that I helped another softball player better their game that day. I think my ability to think abstractly is something unique that I can bring to the coaching game. At BU, I strived on understanding the roles of each position on the field at any given time. Understanding every part of the game outside of my “bubble” at shortstop helped me grow as both a player and future coach.

Justin’s World: What is the biggest thing you learned during your playing career that you’ll use as you look to enter the coaching profession?
Brittany Clendenny: “Controlling the Controllables” was the best thing I learned in college ball. I was tough on myself as a player, getting frustrated when I hit three screaming line drives in a row and the defense was just in the right position every time. So often we forget that softball is a game of failure. We control how we hit the ball, not the outcome of the ball hit – that’s in the hands of the defensive player. We have control of what we do as a defensive player. We also see a lot of this with umpires! The umpires are in charge of making the calls for the game, yet we sometimes get ahead of ourselves when they make a bad call. However, if we focus (both as players and coaches) on what we can control, how we hit, pitch or field, we are in a better position to win the game.

Justin’s World: If you were stranded on a deserted island for an undetermined period of time but could take three things with you, what would you take? Boats and phones are off-limits.
Brittany Clendenny: A hammock, radio and sweet tea! 

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