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Old 06-09-2022, 12:33 PM   #1
bluesooner17
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 861
Default Oklahoma History from Inside

A friend of mine sent me this and so I thought I would share as it is in my mind a very good story of OU softball:


OU Sooner Softball!!!

Kris Brazeal · 3h ·

A Throwback Thursday OU Story

This is a special TBT as it’s from one of the very early members of OU Softball. I was introduced to Alice through another OU alumn (Ashli Barrett Wigington) and asked her if she’d be willing to provide some stories and pictures and this is what she sent. An amazing and thoughtful reflection of her Sooner days. It’s a bit of a read, but for those of us who treasure the Sooner history here is a brief summary of her story…

As a young Native American woman from the Pueblo of Laguna, growing up in a railroad boxcar located in a Santa Fe rail yard, my career and educational opportunities were limited. As fate would have it, the long reach of OU athletics found me on an obscure softball field in rural New Mexico. I didn’t know it at the time, but in May of 1977, thanks entirely to Marita Hynes, I became one of the first Title IX scholarship recipients in OU history. This was opportunity that shaped my life & an opportunity that I will be eternally grateful for. This was also an opportunity that I didn’t fully realize until decades later.

While my stay at OU was limited (’78-79) due to a career ending injury, my OU ‘family’ has stayed with me for over 40 years. Thanks to the efforts of the University which have hosted several alumni events, my OU relationships have continued to grow. I had the pleasure of meeting & talking with Coach Gasso at the Alumni Reunion back in Oct 2021. OU is blessed to have her & her Son as Coaches.

I’m amazed to see the expansion of Women’s softball since my time as a player at OU. At that time, games were held at Reeves Park not in a stadium, we had no locker rooms, and we traveled in vans from game to game. In the winter we practiced in the Field House & ran under Oklahoma Memorial Stadium which we referred to as “Pneumonia Downs”. The program was in its infancy during those days, a vision held close to the heart of a select few who nurtured it like a newborn child. There was no WCWS, minimal if any media coverage, no social media or statistical data base tracking every detail of a player’s performance. The one thing we have in common with the players of this era is our love of the game. Softball is our outlet for expression, and it touches a place deep in our soul. Without the game our lives would be incomplete.

Lacking the statistical data that is often referenced to locate one’s place in history, here is a brief timeline of events that come to mind:

•In March of '77, I was invited to try out for one of the few professional women's softball teams, the San Jose Sunbirds. I attended the tryouts & since I was only 16 at the time was put on a "Protected List", meaning I was committed to them if I didn't go on to college.

•In the summer of 1977 during a summer league game, I struck out a well known slugger that unbeknownst to me, played for Coach Hynes women's team. After the game I was asked If I would be interested in playing for OU. Not knowing fully what that meant, but just knowing I wanted to continue playing ball, I said yes. That following Monday Coach Hynes called me & offered me a full scholarship to pitch for OU.

•I played the '78 spring softball season at OU & field hockey in the fall; there was no fall softball program at that time.

•In '79 we had both spring & fall softball seasons. I believe it was in '79 that the University arranged for myself and 3 other pitchers to attended a pitching camp by the most impressive pitcher I have ever seen, Joan Joyce. That was one of my most memorable experiences.

•In the Spring of '80, I was to move into the #1 pitching spot but tore my rotator cuff tendon right before the season started. I was red shirted, had surgery to repair it, but a couple weeks out of surgery I fell landing on my injured arm. I heard & felt the tissues tear along with experiencing extreme pain. I knew I did not want to go through another surgery so that same afternoon, I went to see Coach & told her I wanted to go home, never telling her why. Although she tried to convince me to stay, I knew my pitching career was over so I went home.

•The pitches I threw were: rise, inside & outside curve, drop, change up & fastball. Back in those days we had very limited media coverage & stats were no where close to what they have today. I did locate a few stats for the end of Spring '79.

59 3/4 innings pitched

305 batters faced

.82 era

I always thought these were things i would never forget but time has a way of changing that.

After Monday’s win over UCLA, we hastily made travel plans driving over 8 hours from New Mexico. As I sit in my hotel room writing this, my WCWS tickets in hand (actually in my digital wallet) awaiting tonight's first game of the 2022 championship series, I can’t help but reflect on the impact that Title IX has had on women’s sports and especially so for women of color. As a Native Hawaiian, Joycelyn Alo has walked a similar path. While she is arguably one of the greatest women’s softball players of all time, it is her humble beginnings that touch my heart.

If you were to trace the history of OU softball back from the super highway of today to its humble beginnings you’d find a narrow path of lightly trodden grass. I’m thankful to those that came before me to blaze that trail, a trail that would lead me to who I am today. I’m also very proud to have taken steps along that path ensuring in part that those coming behind me could find their way. So in great anticipation of seeing Jocelyn take the field tonight, I reflect on how over 40 years ago a young Native American woman’s footsteps pressed down a few blades of grass on a path that in some small way helped a young Native Hawaiian woman find that path and achieve greatness.

While it’s always memorable to part of a winning program, I want to pay my respects to those that remained steadfast and committed during those seasons where loses outnumbered the wins & to those players that spent more time on the bench than on the field. Most of all, to those former alumni, friends and family that have left this earth but whose spirit still visits us on the diamond of life! I love you all and will never forget the positive impact you’ve had on my life.

After I came to terms with that career ending injury, I realized that was the Universe's way of telling me I needed to go in a different direction. After raising my three children, I became a massage therapist along with doing a number of healing modalities. 😊

Lastly, I wish to acknowledge the efforts of my first coach, my dad, who passed far too young but put me on a path that lead me to OU.

Thanks Dad! Thank you Title IX! And above all, thank you to Coach Marita Hynes & the University of Oklahoma!

Boomer Sooner!!

Sincerely,

Alice Fernando-Ahmie
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Old 06-09-2022, 02:28 PM   #2
OUDallas66
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Default Re: Oklahoma History from Inside

God bless you Alice.
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