Jessica Mendoza chooses the harder path

People who do extraordinary things grow up visualizing their future. They don’t necessarily see the path, but they see themselves in that end position.

Jessica Mendoza grew up believing you need to see it to be it, and what she’s accomplished on the field is extraordinary. She was a four-time First-Team All-American outfielder at Stanford and continued her success as a two-time Olympic medalist and a three-time World Champion.

“I never realized I was good until I would say – and this is sad – probably 23- or 24-years old. It was a game-changer. My level of play, I can’t even tell you how much it took off once I believed that I was great. Even just to say that. It’s hard for athletes, especially female athletes, just to say, ‘I’m really good, I’m really strong and I’m awesome.’ You just don’t hear that. And for me, when I really believed it, I could hit anybody. I could beat any team. I became that player. I think that was something so important for me. I was always good, but I couldn’t be great unless I truly believed it.” –Jessica Mendoza

Today Jessica is challenging the status quo on national television as the first female analyst for ESPN’s baseball coverage. The key to Jessica’s success is that she welcomes challenge. She forces herself out of her comfort zone.

“There’s something that’s sick about me that craves the harder path.  I think there are easier paths you can take, especially as an Olympian. You accomplish certain things and you can kind of have your career set up to do certain things because of that. For me, I always went left. What else can I do? I’m not done. That looks like a rocky path, so let’s take it. I’ve always been motivated by the challenge.” –Jessica Mendoza

It’s always been important to Jessica that she wasn’t just considered good for a woman. She wanted to be good, period. Jessica’s name will be in the softball record books forever, and now she’s continuing to carve her own path and inspire women – and men – everywhere.

“I feel like the era that we’re in right now is so incredible … There’s so much that’s happening for firsts and for lasting in any category now. Whether it be sports, whether it be politics, whether it be a CEO of a company – it’s there and it’s in front of you … I just love that if you’re 11, 12, or 40, I really believe you can look out and say, ‘I want to do this.’ I tell my girls all the time, even if you don’t see someone doing it, there’s nothing you can’t do. For me, there was no female doing this on ESPN for Sunday night or doing MLB games. I just had it in my mind that this is something I feel connected to and something I really want to do. Just because there isn’t someone before me doesn’t mean I can’t do it.” –Jessica Mendoza

Listen to our conversation here. 

Lauren Grancio