Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bree Nasti Steps Into Justin's World

Photo provided by Bree Nasti/ (c) Paul Hokanson
Last Friday, in the most recent edition of our Where Are They Now series, we caught up with Buffalo great Bree Nasti. Today, join us as Bree candidly shares her thoughts and provides some particularly humorous anecdotes.:

On her favorite memories… It’s funny. I have a former teammate who could tell me what happened in the third inning of a game in March of 2003. Meanwhile, it usually took me four innings before I realized the opposing pitcher was left-handed, and being left-handed, we usually find each other pretty quickly in life. The further removed I am from college ball, the more the vivid memories speak volumes of the things that mattered most. I remember playing in Hawaii on a beautiful day and moments later, on the field stuck in torrential downpour and thunderstorms. (And then moments later, playing in Hawaii on a beautiful day.) Nature is crazy. I don’t know if it was that day, or another day in Hawaii – I see how people can lose days, weeks, months, or years in a place like Hawaii – but we beat Baylor, who at the time was ranked 18 nationally or something like that. That was pretty cool. I think I had a hat trick that day. Three SO’s. Followed by a slight breakdown where I questioned my ability to play softball at a high level. Maybe it’s a little twisted, but that’s one of my favorite memories, for a few reasons. One, it was a big deal to us. It meant something, and we did it together. Two, the game humbled me, as it often tends to do, and reminded me that without a thick skin or some stubbornness, you’re not long for the world of softball.

On passing advice to today’s generation of players… High school ball matters. Having pride in town, city, state, and community matters. Competition matters. Keeping score matters. Winning and losing matters.  There is more to life than softball.  The meals on my table depend on softball, so if I can say there is more to life than softball, kids should be able to do the same. That being said, if you are passionate about something, you owe it to yourself and to whatever that thing is to treat it with care, sacrifice, and pride.  There is no substitute for investment, time spent, and working at something. There are also no guarantees in it. I think this is one of the most important lessons this generation of players must learn. Working hard at something doesn’t mean you will get what you want, but it will create more opportunities and perhaps increase your odds of getting what you want. Sometimes people are more talented, smarter, luckier, etc. It’s not fair. Life is not fair, but without investment and work, you won’t ever put the gloves on or make it to the ring.

On her post-playing endeavors… My playing career hasn’t ended. I play for a living. If I can’t enjoy what I’m doing, I have to find something else to do.  Sadly, I’m sure there are many who still have a playing career, but the play has ended. Okay, sure, technically my playing days are over. I began coaching as an assistant immediately following college. I began at Hofstra, moved to St. John’s, and then to Stony Brook. After six years of this type of role, I felt there was more I needed to do in order to best prepare myself for whatever it was I decided to do in the future. I moved to California and pursued a graduate degree at Fresno State. I stepped away from coaching, and in doing so was brought closer to it. In addition to higher education, I had a few odd jobs out there, including a summer with the Fresno Grizzlies, who were at the time the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. That was fun. I chauffeured the mascot around, ran the warning track in a hamster suit in between innings, drove Manny Burress’s Benz, talked softball with then-manager Steve Decker, learned about the mud used to prep baseballs, made my own variations of Powerade concoctions complete with ridiculous names, drove Billy Crystal in a golf cart, and in between game and event ops duties, acted as an assistant clubbie on the visitor’s side.  I taught activities classes and studied Sport Administration at Fresno State.  I took a Talent Development & Coaching class as an elective during my first year and in doing so, I met Dr. Wade Gilbert, a brilliant mind in the field of Sports Psychology, who became the chair of my thesis committee and helped me to design and execute a study in coaching science. The process of observing effective coaching, researching, and writing about it made me look at my profession through a different lens, and in doing so, made me feel more confident and prepared for my future in coaching than any experience I had previously. The irony was that it was the leaving that brought me back to it. Had I not, I might be doing something very different with my life. My inability (or lack of desire) to look ahead or plan my future has been of frustration to some people in my life whose role it has been to help me prepare for what is ahead. I remember butting heads with my Sport Administration professor and advisor at Fresno State over this many a time. After nearly two full years of not understanding each other, he told me that planning isn’t for me, that he understood that now, and that while he may have no idea where I’ll be in five to ten years, he knows for a fact that I will be happy. I don’t know if he realized how, in that one simple statement, he understood me completely.
As for the “otherwise”, I try to round out my professional life with adventure and exploration. It’s amazing what some fresh air and a nice view will do for a person. I’ve never been to Portland. I really want to go to Portland.

On the skill(s) she learned from playing that has benefitted her as a former player… There are so many. I think it would be that the game doesn’t care how badly you want it, how many games you won or lost previously, how long it’s been since you’ve had a hit, etc. I think you can make softball analogies for pretty much anything in life. Someone once told me that life is just like baseball: slumps and streaks. I think about that a lot. And what constitutes which? That’s a “you” thing. That’s mindset.  I heard someone else say once, “the only thing that’s fair in life is a ball between first and third”. Yeah, life’s not fair. I’m not really a “quote” person, or an unnecessary-quotes-around-a-word person – which I think I just did – but I think playing sports has taught me that getting my way isn’t the most important thing, but finding a way is. It has taught me to value process over outcome. And here comes the quote: “If you don’t like where you are, then change it. You are not a tree.”  We like to complain about things because it’s easier than changing them. Coaches are guilty of it too. I have found myself saying things like, “kids these days don’t know how to…” and then I think, I’m better than that. If I don’t like where they are, let’s change it. None of us are trees.

1 comment:

  1. I have watched Bree grow from a child to a beautiful woman with many talents. It all started in Baldwin NY. When her Dad, Tom Nasti became a father to his first offspring Breanne. Tom managed a Little League team and when she became of age he dressed her in a Little League uniform and introduced her to baseball. Bree took the introduction with pride and became the team catcher. It was rumored that Tom Nasty’s team had a girl on the team. Even though she was left handed she played that position excellently. Here she learned to be a team player, which would be her trademark in all the sports she would play.
    In high school she achieved the highest National Batting Average which is published in Who’s Who in America High School. She graduated with high honors in Sports and Scholastics. She continued her softball career with local teams on Long Island. At a local talent game, University of Buffalo coach Mary Curran found a diamond in the rough. She said I watched this lanky young girl drive balls into deep center field and offered her a scholarship at U.B. It was a match made in heaven and with a little polish Coach Curran knew she had made the right choice. Bree’s softball career blossomed at U.B. as she started to break records She graduated with high honors scholastically and later was inducted into U.B. Hall of Fame
    I compiled all her stats and presented them to her I titled it “That Nasti Girl” Bree always said Pop they only stats. Bree does not like praise, she feels she is just doing her job. She also is her own worse critic. She is a sweet complex human being who believes in herself in decision making, but on the field you will find she is a formidable opponent. I am always in the wings urging her on all her endeavors. Tom Petruzzelli