STORRS, Conn. – As the UConn softball program enters the summer months, it looks to catch up with some of the people who have laid the groundwork to make the team what it is today – reviving its “UConn Softball: Where Are They Now?” feature series to highlight the accomplishments of some of our proud alumni.
A native of Corona, Calif., Alyssa Gardea has managed to find a way to work in the game she loves since graduating from UConn in the spring of 2016. It’s been an eventful two years for the former Husky outfielder, taking her from Connecticut to Tennessee to Oklahoma.
She had the best seat in the house for the recent Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, as Gardea currently works as an Event Coordinator for USA Softball – capitalizing on her operations and communications background to begin her dream career.
A four-year student-athlete at UConn, Gardea played her first two seasons under Hall of Fame coach Karen Mullins before current head coach Jen McIntyre arrived in Storrs, following Mullins’ retirement. She was part of the first Husky group to usher the program into a new era, as it became a member of the American Athletic Conference in 2014.
During her UConn career, Gardea made 171 game appearances, including 145 starts, while recording a .253 batting average with 99 hits and 43 RBI. She was a four-time mention on the AAC Weekly Honor Roll between her junior and senior seasons.
One of her highlight moments came on April 12, 2015, as she smacked a grand slam as part of an 8-7 win over Memphis. The following season, Gardea went 3-for-6 with a two-run homer and four RBI in a 7-4 win over Boston College in 11 innings on April 20.
Catch up with Alyssa below by reading her responses, and stay updated on our alums by visiting our “Where Are They Now?” homepage HERE.
— Woodstock Softball (@AlexGray_33) June 6, 2018
I currently live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Discuss your current career and the steps you took to achieve it.
I am currently an Event Coordinator for USA Softball. To get to where I am today, it goes back to when I was at UConn. The summer of 2015, going into my senior year, I was an intern here in the Communications/Marketing departments. My experience here and being able to see what goes on behind the sport I love, really truly made me realize I wanted to stay working in sport.
As an athlete, I never thought about the people having to open up gates, schedule staff for an event, put up and take down signage, all those little things, I never considered. While interning here I saw the hard work it took from staff to put on an event, and in those three months I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger than I was.
As a communications major and entrepreneurship minor, I knew I needed to further my education in order to gain knowledge as to what it takes to work in the sports field. So my senior year, I did what I had to in order to make that happen. I then attended the University of Tennessee and received my Masters in Science in Recreation and Sport Management with a concentration in Sport Management.
While attending the University of Tennessee, I worked in the Athletic Event Management Department. The year and a half I was at UT, we implemented the Clear Bag Policy, put on the Battle at Bristol at Bristol Motor Speedway, hosted SEC Swimming & Diving Championship, NCAA Zone B Diving, SEC Tennis Championship, SEC Softball Tournament, SEC Track and Field Championship, 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball First Round and NCAA Softball Regional and Super Regionals. Working in Event Management truly gave me the most valuable knowledge as to how to be an Event Manager.
I graduated in December of 2017, and shortly after received this position I am in now. I truly believe all the steps I took to be where I am today were exactly what I needed to do, because without my second degree I don’t think I would have been given such a great opportunity elsewhere. Jordan Bearden, the graduate assistant of the program interviewed me and took a chance on me and because of her, I learned what I know today.
My greatest accomplishment since graduating from UConn would be receiving my Master’s degree. The reason why my Master’s degree I believe is my greatest accomplishment is because I remember setting up meetings with Coach Mac and Coach Clark every week to make sure I was doing everything I could to get admitted into a program. From making sure I had a 4.0 both semesters, writing my statement of purpose, cover letter, and resume, Coach Clark was there every step of the way. I truly believe without the coaching staff, I wouldn’t have had the faith in myself to push myself. Those coaches not only wanted me to perform on the field, they knew performance off the field was so much more important and preparing me into the young woman I am today. I am so thankful for them and I truly hope I am making them proud.
The coaching staff coming in my junior year truly made me fall in love with the game all over again. Because I had fun on the field and loved playing for them, I knew softball wouldn’t last forever and entering the real world I had to find a new love. Working for USA Softball, I am still able to be part of the game I hold close to my heart. My career here is ideally what one would call a “dream job” because not only did I play for this association growing up, I now work for USA Softball, and we are back in the Olympics! Not only is this sport growing and the recognition for it be on a national level, I am part of helping make a little girl’s dream come true.
What is your favorite UConn softball memory?
I think the coaches could say this, but my favorite memory is my junior year our Memphis series at home I had my first-career grand slam that put us up over Memphis in Game 2. Game 3 I then hit another home run. I remember telling my teammates, “guys I don’t do this, when I can’t hit I just put a bunt down to get on base!” What is even better about this favorite memory, is the pitch for my grand slam was on an inside pitch, mind you this was my worst pitch to hit in the beginning of the season and I worked to make it my best, and there you go!!!
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