Monday, April 27, 2015

Jessica Dobson Steps Into Justin's World

Jessica Dobson had the rare opportunity to wear the uniforms of two top-level Division 1 softball programs. Beginning her career with Indiana University, Jessica spent two years as a Hoosier before electing to finish her career with the Jaguars of South Alabama.

Dobson pitched sparingly at both schools, but was effective whenever she came into the ball game in the circle. She graduated in 2013 as part of the senior class that included several Jags starters and then-reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year Brittany Fowler.

Jessica's younger sister Ashley is following in her sister's footsteps, as she's now a junior at Florida Gulf Coast. Also a pitcher, the younger Dobson sister put together a 1.99 ERA at Tallahassee Community College before moving to FGCU.

Jessica began graduate school after her playing career ended, going after her Master's degree. Now Mrs. Wians following her wedding in 2013, continue reading as she shares more about that, as well as memories from her career and much more.

Justin's World: How did you get started playing softball?
Jessica Dobson Wians: I started playing softball when I was about 12 years old, for a local travel ball team. At the time, softball was just a hobby but developed into a more serious effort including numerous travel teams, high school and college play. Pitching was an immediate connection and I was privileged to be able to pursue that passion for the over 10 years. 

JW: After beginning your career at Indiana, you ended up finishing it at South Alabama. Tell me what about each school attracted you there and made you want to attend and play ball for that institution & program.
JDW: I grew up in a small town in northwest Indiana. For a native-born Hoosier, it was a dream come true to play at Indiana University. I enjoyed my time at IU and gained many cherished friendships and memories. However, I needed to complete my last two years of education and softball at a different university. After lots of prayer and serious discussions with my family, I came to the conclusion that God was directing my life in a new direction. During this time of deliberation, my grandpa told me something remarkable:  “If you are willing to say yes to Jesus' plan for your life, who knows what great experiences and adventures will await you.” Those words encouraged me and provided the confidence to say yes to a new plan, so I packed my bags for Alabama. My USA teammates welcomed me and that helped, too.  They impacted my life both on and off the softball field in so many ways. It was a true honor to have been able to play with such a great group of women. Looking back on my decision to attend USA, I know now that a greater purpose was in play than simply athletics. However, the back-to-back NCAA regional appearances with the South Alabama Jaguars was a pretty amazing and unforgettable experience!!!
JW: Finish this sentence: If not for softball, I ____________________
JDW: …would not have developed such a strong sense of work ethic, determination, and the ability to work collaboratively with other professionals. These are skills I learned throughout my years of playing softball that my current employer values as some of my greatest qualities.

JW: Who was your all-time funniest teammate?
JDW: This is actually a very difficult question for me to answer! All of my teammates had their moments. When you spend hours and hours together, you really get to know everyone so well! But, I would have to say Meghan Collins and Kaleigh Floore were in a pretty close tie for my funniest teammates of all-time.

JW: You got to play against some top-quality teams and players during your career. Who was the toughest opponent, either team or individual, that you faced?
JDW: The toughest opponent I pitched against was Oklahoma. That was a great experience and a game that I will never forget.

JW: What would you call the proudest moment of your career?
JDW: I was pitching for South Alabama, we were playing at the Disney Sports Complex and I was pitching against Illinois State. The experience was memorable because my grandparents were there, along with a "flock" of snowbirds from their retirement community, as well as other family members who were in attendance at the game! It was such a special moment for me to have all of my family there to watch me pitch. That was also the last game my Grandma Dobson watched me pitch, because she passed away that next year. Off the field, my proudest moment would have to have been achieving Academic All-American two years in a row.

JW: Describe to me what it felt like when you walked off the field in your last game, knowing that was it, that there would be no “next game” or “next year” any longer?
JDW: My last game pitching was against Louisiana-Monroe, it was senior night, and a very emotional time as a very long path was coming to an end. I still remember the last out of the game was a strikeout on a screwball. I was actually at peace with my career ending, because I felt that I had accomplished something very special. I left everything I had on the field that night.

JW: What have you been up to since your playing career ended? Are you still involved with softball in some way?
JDW: I am currently working with children that have special needs (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome etc.) providing speech therapy services as a speech-language pathologist’s assistant. I am also attending graduate school working on my masters degree in speech-language pathology. Last December I married my all-time number one fan and high school sweetheart. I love hiking and being in the mountains. I’ve climbed two "14ers" in Colorado and would love to do many, many more.

JW: Let’s say you were stranded on a deserted island, Robinson Crusoe-style, but could take three things with you. No boats, no phones (that’d spoil all the fun!) What would you take?
JDW: Well, if I could take a person, I would take my handsome husband. I would also want to have access to Netflix, and of course my Bible.

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