Jan. 31, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As the University of Michigan softball team (No. 13 ESPN.com/USA Softball, No. 15 USA Today/NFCA) prepares to kick off the 2013 campaign Feb. 8-10 in Tampa, Fla., captains Amy Knapp (St. Joseph, Mich./Lakeshore), Jaclyn Crummey (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) and Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco) sat down for a Q&A to discuss the upcoming season.
Q: Describe the first few weeks of practice:
Knapp: You can tell that we're anxious to get out on the field, and we're tired of being cooped up in Oosterbaan Field House, we want to get out on the dirt. We're just excited to start playing.
Sappingfield: When we get super excited to be out in the rain, I think you can tell we want to be outside -- it's like a holiday.
Crummey: This year specifically we've had a lot of lessons and throughout the three weeks we've grown and grown as a team both on and off the field. We're finding out what works for us, I think when we finally do get out on the field everything is going to click, and I think we're all excited to see that happen.
Q: What does this team do really well?
Sappingfield: We do a really good job of picking each other up and working as a team. Through "The Program" (a military-style training session) and through the conditioning season, that was our whole thing: hold each other accountable, so we're going to push each other to get better. The coaches are always there to push us but it comes down to us to get where we want to go.
Q: What do you like about this team?
Crummey: From freshman year to this year, the culture on our team has really grown closer and closer and every year. I don't know if that's because I'm older now and the way I look at this team is a little different, but I think we gel so much more on and off the field. That's what allows us to really pick people up or get in their face if we need to. So our being comfortable with one another is really helping us move forward.
Knapp: We all have really different personalities and that makes us mesh, we have a lot of variety.
Sappingfield: We have a variety of personalities and talents, and that makes us click.
Q: Do you feel the pressure based on the success of previous Michigan teams?
Sappingfield: I think there's definitely pressure, but it's more like adding fuel to our fire. We want to do what we've done in the past, but at the same time we want to take that next step and win another national championship, because only one other team has ever done it. I think this year we're not thinking about the pressure of meeting the expectations of last year; we're focused on our goals this year.
Knapp: And going beyond that, no one on this team has ever been to a College World Series. We're one of the first classes in a while that hasn't and there's always that pressure. But you want to go beyond what some of the other successful teams have done.
Crummey: We also emphasize that it's not what's happened in the past, it's what we're doing right now. This is Team 36 and we have nothing accomplished yet. But we have all of our goals that this team can accomplish. We can't depend on what we've done in the past, so that's what keeps our work ethic going.
Q: Finish this sentence: This team will be successful because ...
Sappingfield: Because we know how to learn from our failures.
Crummey: We're willing to learn from our failures. We've had some adversity with people coming into new positions and new roles as leaders on the team. I think that alone has given us the strength to accept those failures and find new ways of overcoming them.
Q: What can people expect from Team 36?
Sappingfield: We're a young team so there's a new atmosphere this year with how we approach practice and how we approach playing. We're all spunky and fiery when it comes to playing the game.
Crummey: There's a lot of potential with our young players and really anybody on this team can break out. We've been working to push through failures and go hard, once we get on the field and play everyone is going to go all out. It's going to be fun and exciting to watch.
Knapp: We all grow every practice, we keep improving every day.
Sappingfield: Everyone has bought into the team. The team's successes are more important that individual successes. Everyone wants to be successful individually, but overall we're much more focused on the team.
Crummey: Individually and as a team, we're not ready to settle. And we won't come close to that until we're in Oklahoma City.
Contact: Michael Kasiborski (734) 763-4423