Jennifer Brundage (born June 27, 1973 in Orange, California) is an American softball player and Olympic champion. She is currently assistant softball coach at the University of Michigan.
She competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney where she received a gold medal as a member of the American winning team.
Brundage was a four-year letter receiver in softball at UCLA. She began her college softball career as assistant coach at UCLA, then was assistant coach at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga before joining the University of Michigan coaching staff in 1998.
Jennifer Brundage answers my Ten Questions. Written By Gary Leland
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I started playing softball when I was 8 years old.
Q.Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. It would be a daunting task to list everyone who influenced me, but probably the most influential people in my softball development were my mom and dad who would go to the field or the batting cages with me almost daily, my coaches at UCLA, and my boss here at Michigan, Carol Hutchins.
Q.How did you get ready for a game?
A. In college, I would always get to the field early and hit off a tee by myself to get myself locked in and feeling good. When my teammates arrived, I would focus on just enjoying them and staying loose. Once I joined the national team, it was much more challenging to have the time on the tee by myself, so I replaced that with visualization.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. When I’m not involved with softball, I enjoy playing ice hockey in the winter and stand up paddle boarding in the summer.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. I think the biggest factor was hard work. I was taught from a young age to work hard for everything, whether it was athletics or school or music (I played an instrument up through my first 2 years of college). I am not naturally gifted at anything, but I was naturally very competitive and always wanted to be the best. To do that, I had to work very hard and that work ethic definitely came from my parents. One of the other main factors was the advent of Title IX and the opportunities to play and train that I had growing up that generations before me did not have. My generation was really the first generation to experience the benefits of Title IX.
Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?
A. I always had a routine as I got into the batters box and that is much better demonstrated than explained. It was just something to help me relax and get into a good mindset before each pitch. I am not superstitious at all.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. There are so many memories to choose from, but my 2 favorites would be winning the gold medal in Sydney as a player and winning the 2005 NCAA championship as an assistant coach at Michigan.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. I think mental training is extremely valuable and often overlooked, especially in the youth levels of softball. In my opinion, mental toughness is what separates the great players from the very good players. Every player is responsible for her own confidence. It is not something a coach can give or take away. The elite players take ownership of their confidence and work on their mental toughness daily.
Q.What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. I tore my ACL when I was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team. The rehab to get back was intense and painful at times. That was definitely the biggest obstacle in my playing career. As I look back, there were always hurdles to get over, but at the time, I never saw them as obstacles. They were just part of the journey to be the best that I could be. It sounds corny, but it’s 100% true.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?
A. If I could do anything else in this world, I would want to be a lawyer. I wouldn’t want to be the one arguing in a courtroom, but I would totally enjoy the rest of it. I took several law classes in college and absolutely loved the way they made me think. I even enjoyed writing papers and taking exams in those classes.
Brundage won a gold medal at the 1998 South Pacific Classic in New Zealand and has participated in six U.S.A. Softball Festivals. She has played in a number of ASA Women’s Major National Tournaments and helped the California Commotion to its fourth straight national championship in 1999. Brundage has earned seven Women’s Major National championships in her ASA career and is a six-time ASA Women’s Major All-American at third base and outfield.
A four-year letterwinner at UCLA (1992-95), Brundage helped the Bruins to four NCAA Women’s College World Series appearances, winning the 1992 national championship and finishing runner-up in 1993. She earned a pair of NFCA All-America first team accolades at third base and was named the recipient of the Honda Award (softball) in 1995. Brundage led all NCAA Division I players in batting average (.518) as a senior and broke the Bruins’ career records for home runs, RBI and doubles, as well as ranking second on the career list in batting average. On November 11, 2007, she was inducted into UCLA’s Athletics Hall of Fame — the ninth Bruin softball player to earn the distinction.
Brundage was the 1995 CoSIDA Softball Academic All-American of the Year and twice earned CoSIDA Academic All-America first team honors. Brundage was the recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and the UCLA Athletics Senior Scholarship award in 1995.
Brundage graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a B.A. in communications and later earned a master’s in sports management from Michigan. Brundage resides in Ann Arbor with her husband, Rich Boys.