March 21, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With the home and conference seasons kick off in just a few days, purduesports.com sat down with freshman pitcher Ali Conger to get her take on the season so far. The McCordsville, Ind., native shares about her goals, dreams of playing college softball and the importance of her faith and positivity.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
I think just getting the opportunity to play on those big fields that I've watched girls play on ever since I was little. Just seeing all those girls in the big time and now being here myself, this is my dream, I've been working toward this for so long. I'm looking forward to just being in that moment and taking it all in will be exciting.
What was the most challenging part of the fall for you?
The hardest part was definitely having a 6 a.m. practice every day. Mentally that was really tough at times, so I really just had to focus on how at the end it would pay off in season. The early practices were only for the benefit of our team and to make us more mentally strong. If we could handle that, we could handle pretty much anything during the season.
If you could look into the future, what would you like to see yourself accomplishing by your senior year?
By the end of my senior year I just want to be the pitcher that I know that I can be for my team; to not hold myself back, to let go of my fears, just because pitching is really a mental game. So, I would just say develop a really strong mentality for my team and to rise and reach my highest goals that I've always set for myself.
What are your goals for your first season?
Some of my major goals for my first season are to just go out and really perform consistently and be a pitcher that my teammates and coaches can really count on. And then, when I'm not playing, I want to help out and just support my team as much as I can, just help to make everyone better.
What are you most nervous for this year?
I think just not performing to my standards. I always try my hardest, but you're not always going to play as well as you hope. I want to be able to bounce back from that; I have faith in myself. I think the team is very good at helping to prepare each other mentally for situations like that.
How has the transition from high school softball to college softball been so far?
It's been awesome. The older girls have done a really good job of getting us acquainted and helping us feel comfortable here. The biggest change though, was that in high school it was more about you individually as a player trying to make it to the big time, instead of working as a team together, whereas here at Purdue we are all about making each other better and working together. Coach Maher really stresses that and I think it's awesome because it takes away a lot of the selfishness that could get in the way of winning.
What do you feel you bring to the team?
I feel like I bring positive energy definitely. I try to be as uplifting as I can, even in the times when it's really hard and we may be real down, not playing our best. But, all I can bring is my voice and hopefully consistency as a pitcher.
What is the most surprising part of college for you so far?
Well, considering that I'm not an average college student, I guess just the perks we have; we're so blessed. I think I'm just surprised by how well we're taken care of, and how many people are there for us all the time when we need them. If we ever need anything, someone is there for us, so I would just say that we're definitely blessed as a program.
How have it been traveling with the team?
It has really been awesome. I remember when we first got on the bus to go to New Mexico...I can just recall tears filling my eyes and thinking, `This is it. I've been working so hard -- I've been working for this since I was a little girl -- and now it's all coming together.' It's easy being in Mollenkopf every day, and going through the motions, but we just have to keep working because we know it's all going to pay off when we leave like that to travel and go play.
What is your guilty pleasure? A TV show, song, book or food you can't live without?
My guilty pleasure is my guitar. I love playing guitar, it takes me away. I just find it so relaxing. I love being in a room by myself and just strumming and singing as loud as I can and just letting go.
What is something about you that most people don't know?
I guess I would say, that people that don't know me as a person probably don't know that I'm very strong in my faith, but people who know me definitely know that. People that get to know me, that's always one of the first things that they learn.
We also know you're very religious because of some of your tweets, how important is religion to you?
Religion is everything to me. I was raised Catholic, and I got confirmed, and that required church retreats, and through that I found myself and I found God. I found that his love just made me feel complete all the time. It was just so easy to be positive and uplifting of other people. It's hard in college when it's so easy to lose time and not make time for God, but when He is what makes me who I am, I have to make time for Him, because I don't feel whole without it.