By SARAH CHUN
Take the phrase “Once a wildcat, always a wildcat” literally for stellar softball player Janelle Meoño.
A varsity softball member since freshman year and a star on a renowned softball team Orange County (O.C.) Batbusters and Glen A. Wilson’s softball team, Junior Janelle Meoño is more than just your average student-athlete. She not only stands out within her own team and school, but also as a softball player, who is already verbally committed to the Arizona Wildcats softball team, a Division I team, at University of Arizona (U of A).
From leading league in the offensive category to winning Most Valuable Player in the San Gabriel Valley All-Star game last year, and, of course, to committing to U of A, Meoño’s talent in softball is recognized at both local and state levels.
Her journey started when her parents signed her up at the age of four, where her undying love for softball began.
“Softball has always been a big part of my life,” Meoño said. “I fell in love with the sport almost instantly because of the rush playing softball gives me and my parents’ big support.”
Due her quadricep injury last travel season, Meoño was hurt both physically and mentally, but she still managed to overcome this obstacle and grow as an athlete.
“I could not even jog properly for two months. This made me feel weak,” Meoño said. “The pain was a constant feeling that would never go away, but with patience and physical therapy, I was able to get back on my feet.”
At the same time, because of the intense competition in the athletic world, Meoño felt stressed with impressing universities of her softball abilities.
“Many athletes get recruited at a young age, so the pressure of being recruited by a good university was very difficult for me,” Meoño said.
Despite this pressure, her worries were alleviated once she got scouted by the university she fell in love with, U of A, in February last year.
“When I was finally scouted by U of A, I felt a sense of relief and pride,” Meoño said. “I consider [my action to commit to U of A] to be one of my greatest achievements in my life, and I feel even more motivated to try harder [in softball].”
Though Meoño is clearly a talented athlete, that does not stop her from giving her all in academics. Furthermore, Meono strives to keep up with U of A’s requirements of maintaining high GPA and academic excellence for all its athletes.
“Balancing school and softball is probably the [most difficult aspect of my life], as my parents have very high expectations for me in both softball and academics. As a result, I constantly find myself staying up late,” Meoño said. “However, in the end, it is all worth it.”
Meoño credits her parents with providing endless support and motivation through her softball journey.
“My parents have committed so much time and money to [my softball career], so I have always been inspired [to practice hard],” Meoño said. “When my parents started buying U of A spirit gear, it felt good to make them proud.”
For Meoño, softball is more than just a sport, as it has positively affected her life both socially and mentally.
“Through softball, I have met so many people, built valuable friendships and traveled all over the country to play,” Meoño said. “Softball helped me realize that one must not give up and persevere to reach goals.”
Meoño’s success surely does not end here, as she envisions a bright future for herself in softball.
“My goal for this season is to increase my batting average compared to the past two years,” Meoño said. “Thinking long-term, I have always wanted to represent our country on the USA Softball Women’s National Team (Team USA).”
With Meoño’s softball career strongly driving forward, she is set for success in the future, and all we need to do is wait and one day see her on television as a renowned softball player representing our country.