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    Tate's Take: Getting Ready For A New State of Mind
    Junior Chelsea Tate of Mission Viejo, Calif.
    Junior Chelsea Tate of Mission Viejo, Calif.

    Feb. 7, 2013

    MIAMI -- With a new coaching staff, a new Adidas contract and a new team, it's easy to understand why the slogan for the 2013 NC State softball team is "A New State of Mind." 

    The program has undergone some major changes over the past six months, and everyone who is involved has put in a lot of time and effort to make sure we are ready for the season, which starts on Friday at the FIU Panther Invitational.  Our team consists of 14 players this year, which is on the smaller side, but having a small team has advantages.  For example, we are able to get more reps in practice, and everyone will have a chance to play throughout the season.  Staying healthy and limiting injuries is going to be important for all of us this season, since we don't have much depth.  There are big expectations for our three freshmen this season as well.  Lana Van Dyken, Hanna Sommer and Chelsea Stanfield are all expected to contribute right away.  There is no doubt in my mind that they will have a big impact on our team's success. 

    We have been working consistently over the past six months with our strength and conditioning coaches to be physically prepared for all of our games.  Conditioning is not all fun and games, especially when our trainer Wright Wayne has us run dirty dozen drills or puts us through an intensive dynamic warm-up.  Our team does a good job of having fun but working hard at the same time.  We have a solid bond with our trainers, and no matter what workouts we are being put through our team has a good laugh at some point.  Teamwork and competition become apparent during our workouts.  Personally, I can always count on Leah Jones to run with me and we motivate each other through every step of tough workouts.  There is always a competition between Kirsty Grant and Renada Davis to see who can do the agilities quicker.  This type of competition is what makes us all better.  We are all on the same team and working toward the same ultimate goal, which is to win.

    In August, our team got a new Adidas sponsorship and switched all of our gear.  The new Adidas contract meant that we were getting a wardrobe makeover.  As a girl who loves fashion and shopping, this was exciting news.  We got new Adidas cleats, uniforms, shirts, jackets, etc.  I felt like a little kid in a candy shop when we got our new equipment and I am grateful for how fortunate we are at State.  My favorite part of our new jerseys is the ACC logo on the sleeves and I love the color of our red jerseys.  "Look good, feel good, play good," is one of my beliefs, and I am excited for our team to look sharp, as we win games this season.

    Getting a new coaching staff is not something you can really plan or prepare for as a player.  You have to "control the controllables," which is your attitude and work ethic.  Coach Shawn Rychcik, Katie Grimes and Courtney Oliver have a great chemistry with each other that they have shared with our team.  Their coaching style is more laid-back compared to what I have experienced in my softball career, but they have high expectations for us all.  As a whole, I think our team has adapted well to the new mentalities and expectations our coaching staff brought with them.  They challenge us daily in practice and always find ways to help us take our game to the next level.  The three are very organized, and our practices are run smoothly in order to take advantage of every minute we have on the field. Our team has improved tremendously since our first few practices in the fall and we continue to get better everyday.

    January always feels like the longest month of the year, because the anticipation to start playing games grows stronger with every practice we have.  With the exception of a few days, we have been fortunate that the weather has been somewhat warm for the wintertime and we were able to practice outdoors on the field. Caitlin Dent is probably the wimpiest player on the team when it comes to cold weather and the Florida native would probably disagree that this month has been "warm."  Our 2013 season opener is at FIU in Miami, where it is expected to be a sunny 80 degrees.  Caitlin and Katie Mansilla can't wait to kickoff their senior season in their home state playing in the Florida heat.



    I have been counting down to opening day for months now and I still get butterflies before every game.  It's not so much nerves but just the excitement to get an opportunity to compete and win.  All of the hard work our team has put forth the past six months is now going to be tested.  Our team wants to create a new image for the program and exceed expectations this season.  The coaches have prepared us mentally and physically, and now all that's left for us to do is go out there and win. 

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