There are several new members of the Florida State softball family for the 2014-15 season. Over the course of the remaining months leading up to Opening Day, we will be doing a “Getting To Know” series on Seminoles.com to introduce the new freshmen and transfer students to the fans. Today, we will be talking with Amy Szymanowski, a junior transfer catcher from Land O’ Lakes, Fla.
How different is your experience at Florida State to what it was like at the College of Central Florida?
There are a lot more technical points of the game that are covered here. It is not so much just playing with your ability and physicality, but it is the smart aspect of it. And that’s something I’ve really dived into since I’ve been here. Working with Coacha and Coach Wilson, it is almost like beating someone at their own game that they don’t know they are playing. So far, I think that has been my biggest eye-opening experience to see that there is so much behind the scenes that you really don’t think about. At the JUCO level, it is just hit and throw, whereas here it is this is how we are attacking, this is how we want to approach the plate, this is why we are throwing what we are throwing and why we’re doing what we’re doing. I’ve really liked that transition since I’ve been here.
What would you say to someone who is coming out of high school and questioning whether to go to a four-year school or a junior college?
For me personally, I didn’t have the exposure I needed to go to a four-year. I probably could have pulled off an NAIA or maybe a Division 3, but I played for a travel ball team that really didn’t get the name out there and didn’t get the coaches to see what they needed to see. So if a junior college, or a couple junior colleges, come your way and are offering you a scholarship – for me it happened to be a full ride at CF – it ended up being the best decision of my life. Because if I would have said it is Division 1 or nothing at all, I wouldn’t be here, clearly.
I walked away from CF with zero debt and have come here to play Division 1 softball. When I came out of my senior year, I don’t think I was game ready at a Division 1 level. I probably would have spent my freshman and sophomore year riding the bench, whereas I went to CF and I was an impact player for them and really built my career at CF and got myself moved along to a four-year.
What goals do you have for this upcoming season?
This year, my personal goal is to be an impact player for this program. I am open-minded to whatever that might be, whether it is helping out in the bullpen or helping out game-wise. I just want to be the best person and best softball player I can be for this program and keep people positive. That’s kind of my gift, and I do get in my own way with that sometimes, but I do try my hardest to stay positive and spreading that to others who might be getting down on themselves. My goal is to come in here and give 150% every single day of everything I’ve got that day and hopefully that will be enough to show what I am here to do.
Describe an event that has helped shape the person you are today:
My freshman year at CF, I was pretty much on top of the world. My softball career, when I was leaving high school, I didn’t think was going to go anywhere as I graduated with no offers pretty much. I played through that summer and CF kind of came up out of nowhere and I didn’t think I would be looked at but Coach Lingle came up to me and gave me his card. I was on top of the world and couldn’t be happier.
Then my freshman year I got into a car accident with two semi-trucks with one of my teammates. Walked away from that, thankfully, it could have been pretty bad but both of us were completely fine. And then about two weeks later, my older brother passed away in a motorcycle accident. I definitely have bad days about it. I definitely struggle with it around anniversaries and birthdays and stuff like that. But it has definitely helped me have a new perspective on life. Before, I would put myself in a whirlwind about nothing – a bad grade or a bad game or a fight with a friend or whatever else. Losing him that night, he had just accomplished his dreams of becoming a tattoo artist. He had just gotten his license two days before.
I think it really showed me that life is too short to make a big deal about things that aren’t really such a big deal. I definitely have him to thank for that and I know that he’s with me everyday, helping me through all of those little obstacles that might have spread into a couple-day long issues. It hurts, but I’m grateful for God’s plan. I believe that was made to happen for a reason and he’s in a better place and it has helped me form into who I am supposed to be.
Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?
Absolutely. I put my uniform on the same way every single time. Left sock, right sock, same way to loop up my belt. And I have dog tags with my brother’s dates and a quote on them that I do not play without.
What is something you cannot live without?
I would probably say my cell phone, but not for the reason of social media but because being four hours away from home, that’s my connection to my parents and my brothers. So that’s pretty huge for me. Every time I’m getting down on that positivity side of things, I’m always like, ‘Hey dad, I need a pick-me-up,’ or ‘Hey mom, how was your day?’ So my phone definitely keeps me connected to the people that mean the most to me.
What are things you like to do outside of sports of school?
I have an Akita Pitbull at home and I really would enjoy taking him to the dog park, but he has a little aggressive side to him so it is kind of hard. But I really enjoy going to the dog park, even if it is without a dog, just because I feel that dogs are really therapeutic and people at the dog park are really, really cool. So even just since being here I’ve made a couple of friends at the dog park, just walking in with my school stuff and chilling out. They let me hold their dogs and it’s fun.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Surprisingly, with the 6am workouts, I’m becoming more of a morning person. I wasn’t really either/or before. But waking up for 6ams and going right back to the locker room, I shower off really quick and I don’t have class until 9:00 or 10:00 sometimes. So with that time I’ve been doing more studying and more schoolwork and I feel like I’m reviewing more material closer to class time so I’m actually becoming more successful in those classes because I have that reiteration right before class, which I wouldn’t do if I didn’t wake up for 6ams. And Tallahassee mornings are gorgeous, so I’m definitely leaning more toward being a morning person.
Do you normally celebrate Halloween and what have been some of your favorite costumes?
That was definitely a tradition that we celebrated in our house when we were younger and my mom definitely had a good time dressing up me and my three brothers. My favorite one personally would be between one time my mom dressed me and my brother up as Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles from the Flintstones and another time she dressed us up as two peas in a pod. She really got into that and they were all custom made costumes. That was always a good time.