Lisa Fernandez (born February 22, 1971, in New York City) established an Olympic record in softball with 25 strikeouts in a game as a member of the United States Women’s team.
Lisa Fernandez interviewed on The Fastpitch TV Show
Produced By Gary Leland
Lisa Fernandez Answers My 10 Questions:
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I started playing softball when I was 7 years old, for the little miss softball fastpitch association. Prior to that it was just sports clinic and rec ball.
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. My parents were instrumental in my career. My Father is cuban and played semi-pro baseball over there. And my Mother grew up playing slowpitch. So I was always around the game.
As I continued to grow and develop, I’d have to say Dot Richardson. She really took me to the next level. I played with her on the Brakettes, and the Nationals team. We were teammates since the early 90’s.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. I’m so superstitious its crazy, from when I get up to what I eat to how I get dressed to what I watch on TV. Whatever makes me feel like I’m going to have that extra edge against my opponents.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. Well before having children, back in the day competing was the priority, so anything that was low key. Reading books, going to movies, relaxing spending time with friends and family.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. Physically I don’t think I’m different than anyone else, but from what people have said it’s my mentality. I’ve been blessed with some physical skills, but I have pushed myself farther than most would go. To me I have a growth mindset, its about learning and maturing, and growing. Failure is nothing more than a way to inspire me to become better.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. Of course, everyone might say the championships and the medals, but for me it was the loses. I remember some heartbreaking loses that made the biggest impact on my career. I found the inner message within each one, that helped me learn what I needed to know.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. I think mental preparation is huge. I think visualization is huge. I think that’s what seperates the good from the great. Physically all these athletes are talented but it’s really the mentality thats going to show who’s going to get the job done under pressure. What do you do when no one’s watching?
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. Probably the biggest obstacle was when I was maybe 13, I was told I would never be able to pitch because my arms weren’t long enough that I wasn’t built for it. Yet once again my parents were very instrumental in teaching me work ethic and that I better make up for those differences in my mental toughness. How hard was I willing to work to be able to be the best that I can be.
Q. What is life after softball for you?
A. I’m still in it! The game is in my blood, I’m coaching at UCLA and I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Q. What was it like coming back to your Alma Mater as a coach at UCLA?
A. Well I think that’s many players dreams. There was a reason why I picked UCLA as a recruit. To me it’s the greatest institution that provides both academic excellence, and the ability to take you to the next level physically with athletic excellence. The bruin family has done so much for me, I’ve always been able to hit up the “405” and there I’ve got a place I’m welcomed with open arms.
The 2015 WCWS has been so rewarding. It’s been an honor to be here as a coach to help these students reach for their dreams.
Lisa’s father immigrated from Cuba, where he played baseball. In New York, he met Lisa’s mother, who had migrated from Puerto Rico and whom he married. Lisa’s mother played stickball, a street game similar to baseball played with a broom stick and a rubber ball, with her brother in the streets. Lisa began playing at the age of eight. At twelve, she played in a local children’s league; when she tried out as a pitcher, her coach told her that she would never make it because she didn’t have the right size and build. In 1986, Lisa and her family moved to Lakewood, California, where she attended St. Joseph High School. She joined her school’s girls’ softball team and she and her teammates won the CIF Championship.
Upon graduating from high school, she was accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she played softball and earned a degree in psychology. Fernandez played at UCLA from 1990-93. A three-time winner of the sport’s Honda Award, Fernandez became the first softball player to win the Honda-Broderick Cup in 1993, given to the outstanding collegiate female athlete in all sports. A four-time, first-team All-American, Fernandez led UCLA to two national championships (1990 & 1992) and two runner-up finishes (1991 & 1993).
In 1990, Lisa won a gold medal at the ISF (International Softball Federation) World Championship. Among her accomplishments are:
1991, gold medal at the Pan American Games
1994, gold medals at ISF World Championships and Pan Am Qualifier
1994, Sportswoman of the Year Award
Led UCLA to two NCAA Women’s College World Series Titles
Four time NFCA First Team All-American
NCAA Top VI Award presented to the top six senior student athletes in all divisions
1993, Honda-Broderick Cup winner, country’s most outstanding collegiate female athlete
1991-93, Three-time Honda Award winner for softball presented to the nation’s best softball player
1996, Olympic gold medal in the 1996 Olympics celebrated in Columbus, Georgia
1998, gold medal at Pan American Games;
2000, Olympic gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics celebrated in Australia where she established a 25 strikeout record in women’s softball
2002, gold medal at the ISF World Championships
2003, gold medal at the Pan American Games
2004, Olympic gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics celebrated in Greece.
On April 24, 2001, the Lakewood City Council recognized Lisa as one of the most remarkable athletes ever to come from the playgrounds and ball diamonds of Lakewood. The city council named the ball field at Mayfair Park in her honor, as the Lakewood Sports Hall of Fame Athlete of the Year.
Lisa is currently an assistant coach for the women’s softball team at UCLA. She married Michael Lujan in 2002 and gave birth to their son Antonio in 2005. Fernandez and her family reside in Long Beach, California.