Importing interviews from MichaelTillery.com to TSF.
Editors Note: Softball Powerhouse UCLA was eliminated over the weekend by Northwestern University.
Angelica Selden is poised to become one of the best pitchers ever. She doesn’t tell you this, but the sense you get from such a maturely grounded and crazily talented sophomore is something to behold. She has helped pitch the number one ranked UCLA Bruins to another run at a national title. Last year, as a freshman, she helped the Bruins get to the best of three championship series before losing to Michigan in three games on a extra inning home run by fellow freshman Samantha Findlay. Her 2006 stats: 35-6, 1.02 era, 400 strikeouts in 274.2 innings. The opposition batted a paltry .149. That’s ridiculous! Jelly took some time out before the College World Series to let Blacksportsnetwork.com know what makes her tick.
Michael Tillery: You pitched 10 consecutive no-hitters and had 7 perfect games at Varden High School (CA)—eventually winning the sectional championship. When did you know that you could make an impact on major college softball?
Selden: Just playing with my team and seeing our team success made me realize that I could make an impact. Just by pitching batting practice, I’m helping my team.
MT: What do you remember most about your high school days?
Selden: What I most remember is that every team I played on was extremely different. Especially my senior year because I was one of two seniors and everyone else was really young. That was also fun because I really like to help other players improve. Pushing and motivating them was so much fun. I really enjoyed having an impact on the team—and not just by pitching.
MT: What has been your biggest moment so far in your UCLA career?
Selden: I don’t think there has been a big moment that I can really tell you about. The best part of UCLA is the family atmosphere. The support and the tradition is amazing to be a part of. Also being on a team where everyone has the same goal as you. The moments where we get to bond as a team are fun times. Having each other and being part of something successful is the best part.
MT: You pushed Michigan to the limit but came up just short last year. What do you and the Bruins have to do to achieve the ultimate goal in winning the National championship?
Selden: We just have to continue to play our game. I don’t think there is anything extra that we can do. We are already in the post season. It’s just a matter of being our best when we need to be our best. Continuing our positive attitude with every inning. Picking each other up. That’s the biggest part. Supporting one another, playing the best we can and maintaining poise will help us get to where we want to be in the end.
MT: What part of your overall game do you want most to improve on?
Selden: A lot of stuff. I think I still have to work on being more consistent with my pitching. Being able to throw any pitch at any time. Being able to again maintain poise and not let anything affect my pitching. I want to be perfect in that regard. If I can stay poised even though I’m not hitting my spots, I can always have the strength and confidence to come up with a big pitch in a tough spot even though I have my C game going. MT: Who has had the most impact on your life personally and athletically?
Selden: My parents, Sylvia and Pat Conway. Especially my Mom. She has had the most impact on me personally. She’s a strong and independent woman. That’s how she’s brought me up as well. Athletically, my parents also, because they put me into sports. My parents put me on the right track and my coaches took it from there. My parents gave me the mind set, my coaches developed my skill.
MT: What advice would you give to minority girls who want to play softball since there’s not an emphasis in the inner cities?
Selden: You are capable of being successful in anything you do, no matter what sport it is. Being part of any team is an opportunity to grow and learn about other people as well as themselves. It’s an opportunity minority kids should take advantage of. If you make a mistake, it will only help you get better. Don’t ever give up on anything because you are failing every once in a while. Keep fighting! Keep striving! Manage your failures and flip them into confidence. Take it one pitch at a time.
MT: You have done so much at such a young age. Speak of what drives you mentally to put yourself in such an advantageous and mature position to lead one of the most tradition drenched universities on the mound?
Selden: I think it all starts with my parents and my coaches. My parents—first and foremost—have helped to give me the strong mind that I use in anything I do—not just playing softball. The coaches that I’ve had throughout the years. Especially my current coach Sue Enquist—who I get complete support and motivation from. With that, I’m able to be confident that my team has confidence in me. Anyone who has acquired a strong mind set didn’t do it alone. I have a very strong family foundation at home, with my team and with my coaches. That’s what helps me have that confidence and that positive mind set to go after anything without fearing failure. One of my favorite quotes is this: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” I love that quote because you would do anything if you thought in such a way. That’s how everyone should think. You wouldn’t worry about disappointing anyone or yourself. Everyone would be successful in what their niche is if they just understand that it’s so important to think like that. Go after what you want in life with supreme confidence.Knowing that you are going to struggle and searching for the inner strength to come out the other end is what makes you the best when you need to be.
MT: What are your goals? What do you want to do besides softball? Do you have Olympic dreams?
Selden: Honestly, I’m still very young so I don’t know exactly what I want to do after I graduate. I want to be able to learn about my strengths and weaknesses and developing my strengths to play off my weaknesses. I want to travel. I want to get to know who I am as a person and as a softball player. I don’t just want to be Jelly—the UCLA softball pitcher. I want to stray away from that and become more than that. I do have Olympic dreams. That is like the final goal. I don’t want to focus on that. I’m focused on winning a national championship for my team and that’s it. Nothing else. I have year to year goals. If that opportunity comes along to play for the national team when I’m ready, then I’ll definitely take it.
MT: How do you stack up in this stage of your development to UCLA pitching great Lisa Fernandez?
Selden: I think that to compare myself to anyone is wrong and I try to stay away from that. Every pitch has their style. Every great athlete’s talent is unique in helping them become successful. I think it’s the mental part of the game that defines a pitcher and makes them successful. A good pitcher to me is having the same mind set no matter if they are winning or losing. Like I alluded to before, I’m going to use what I have to strike the next person out. I think I’m very very strong mentally overall. To compare myself to someone like Lisa Fernandez—who has been in the game for years—is premature, because she has a lot more experience and knowledge to strategically combat the opposition’s total lineup. No athlete should say “ I wanna be as good as her.” Be the best you can be individually and don’t worry about comparisons. I do feel I have the talent. Where I end up in the grand scheme of things, remains to be seen.
MT: Why do teams west of the Mississippi have such a stronghold on softball? Michigan last year became the first team East to win a national championship.
Selden: Teams West are accustomed to playing year round. Teams East of the Mississippi don’t start practicing until April. The more you play, the more you practice, the more you get better.
MT: Who do you really get up for?
Selden: Personally, I don’t have any rivalries with anybody. As a team we have always had a rivalry with Arizona. I never single someone out in the dug out and say that’s my rival. Or when I have been interviewed they say it’s me against the opposing teams pitcher, that’s misleading because I have to face the team.
MT: I interviewed Monique Curie when she was still at Duke. She’s focused and determined to be the best. She tried to emphasize the importance of female sports. Society just doesn’t focus on women’s athletics for some reason. What would you like to tell America about what they are missing?
Selden: This is a hard one. I don’t want to put men’s sports down. I can honestly say that from watching women’s sports we don’t ever stop playing. There’s no rest time for us. Again, nothing against men’s sports, but we are in it every single minute of the game. Women just have a drive to play hard every play no matter what the situation.
MT: How did you have a 0.03 era in high school?
Selden: I have no idea. I don’t really keep track of my stats. I think for the most part it was just being prepared. I can’t take full credit for that because I’m not striking everybody out. My defense had a big part in my overall success. It wasn’t about me, it was about my team.
MT: Jelly, I’m honored to have interviewed such an influential and intelligent athlete who has accomplished so much in so little time. You are on your way to greatness! To have the temperance to block out distractions at such a young age should be an inspiration to all who want to play any sport on any level. Good luck in the tournament! Angelica “Jelly” Selden, thanks for the soul flow.