A Chat With Olympic Gold Medalist Michelle Venturella
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On April 9 and 10, former Hoosier and Olympic Gold Medalist Michelle Venturella returned to Bloomington when Iowa, where she currently serves as assistant coach, took on the Hoosiers in two Big Ten Conference games.
Venturella is one of Indianas most famous softball alumni and her name can be found all over the Hoosier record books. Currently, the Schererville, Ind., native holds the single season record for runs scored (57), doubles (17), walks (56), slugging percentage (.819), homeruns (16) and RBIs (65).
After the game on Friday, Michelle sat down to reflect on her time at Indiana.
How does it feel to be back in Bloomington? It is great to be home. This will always be such a special place for me and since we arrived last night, I have not stopped smiling. I have such great memories of my time here at Indiana and it feels great to be back.
What is your fondest memory of your time here at Indiana? It is always the people. I think the people make the place. I loved playing for coach Stephenson. She actually changed my whole life because she is the one that made me a catcher when I used to be a first baseman. That gave me the opportunity to be a catcher in the Olympics. Without her coaching and her seeing what I would be able to do, that would have never happened. I still talk to her. I also keep in contact with my teammates. Its hard now because I coach too, but there is nothing like being able to come back for alumni weekend and talk about the good times. It always comes back to the people, the people make this place very special.
How do you think your time at Indiana helped you get where you are today?
Just the lessons that you learn. I think by playing division one athletics, you learn so many things that are important in life. Again, I had a great mentor and great teammates. The high expectations, as a student and as an athlete, prepared me to go into the world and I think it has been a good success so far!
You are one of the most well known IU softball alumni and your name appears all over the Hoosier record books. What do you want your legacy at Indiana to be?
I just want people to know that I was someone who always came out and competed. I wanted to come out and play well for Indiana. I respect and love the game. I want to pass that along. It is one thing to do well on the field and in the classroom, but if you dont pass that along, its lost. When people think about me as an athlete and a student, I want them to know that I played hard and I loved the game. Still to this day, it is hard to be on the other side of the line sometimes. I enjoyed my time here and I worked hard for everything that came my way.
Now that the Olympics are coming around again, do you find yourself reflecting back to 2000 when you won the gold medal?
To a point. I am happy for all my teammates that are going to the Olympics this year. I dont regret not being there. It was my choice to step down and not be there. Earlier this year, we (Iowa) had a chance to play the Olympic team on tour. To be on the other side of the line and to wear a different uniform, it brought back some memories. After the game, I was standing at home plate talking to some of my old teammates wearing their uniforms and I said Man, I really miss you guys! And that is what it always comes down to. The Olympics is the Olympics and nothing will ever compare to that, but my teammates and the things that you go through to get to that point is what you always hold on to. That was my situation here at Indiana and that was my situation with the Olympics.
How do you think the Olympic team will do in Greece? I think the team is going to do well. Its always hard when you dont play at home. They respect the opposition and they have done a lot of work. I feel confident in their preparation. I still talk to some of the athletes and I know what they are doing. They may be more prepared now than they ever have been. They looked pretty good when we saw them. My heart will be with them in Greece and I will be anxious to watch every game.
Are you doing anything special while you are here in Bloomington? I want to go back to Macris! That is such a great place! Its just fun to reconnect. I was running on campus this morning and it was just such a great feeling. I will be reflecting a lot on the good old days. Being Italian, food is always a priority so Im not sure where we might end up eating dinner!