Local Talent Returns Home to Stay
March 5, 2014
By Kim Fisher
By Kim Fisher
FRESNO, Calif. - As any student-athlete would attest, freshman year of college often entails various struggles and obstacles while adjusting to a new lifestyle. By the time sophomore year comes around nerves are more at ease, a routine is typically established and the surprise factor of college is often eliminated.
This sense of comfort seemed to be nonexistent for senior Stesha Brazil as she endeavored the "freshman experience" consecutively her first three years of college.
Unaware of just how hard it would be to leave the small town of Hilmar, Calif. where her life and family were established, Brazil took the plunge and moved to Texas to play for the University of Houston, but it wasn't long before she began doubting her decision.
"It was a really difficult because when I had a hard time or a hard day I couldn't just go home or see my family," Brazil said. "All I could do was call and talk to them and I was really homesick, so I was upset the whole time about being so far away from my family."
After her first year with the Cougars, Brazil asked for her release to leave Houston and returned home for summer with the uncertainty of where she would end up and what her next three years of college would entail. Presented with several options, including Fresno State, she had only a few short months to make the decision of where she would carry out the remainder of her college experience.
July of 2011 was when she committed to being a Bulldog to head coach Margie Wright. As she left her visit, Brazil was confident that once she began her journey at Fresno State, her next three years would be smooth sailing and was at ease with the idea that she would only have to relearn a new program one last time.
"I remember Coach Wright called us in on a Sunday, which was our off day then and it was really weird, we thought we were in trouble at first and I remember her telling us she was leaving," Brazil said. "It was the hardest thing because she was one of the main reasons why I came here because coaching, after my freshman year, was a big deal to me. I was extremely nervous for the next years to come because it was like dang, I have to do this all over again."
At the end of her 27th season as head coach of the Fresno State softball program, Wright announced she was retiring and Brazil was now faced with the obstacle of relearning an entirely new program, once again.
College altogether is a learning experience, but the life skills that this senior first baseman will walk away with are far more unique then your ordinary student. Relearning three different softball programs in a span of three years has given Brazil the opportunity to gain a better perspective on how to deal with various situations, especially when times were tough.
"For me it really was like fight or flight, I could either fight to keep going and keep learning and keep doing it even though it was hard, or I could just quit and be done with it," Brazil said. "So I had to deal with it and I had to get through it and I think in the workplace it's going to help me being able to adjust to different bosses and different people and different situations."
From a Cougar to a Bulldog, Brazil had finally found the perfect match that she was looking for and was a huge contribution on the Diamond for a program she finally felt at home with. Being only short distance from family and having an acquired sense of satisfaction with her decision of transferring, the news of Coach Wright leaving raised the question of how she would cope with the change entailing the reconstruction of a program she was finally comfortable with.
Admittedly, Brazil exclaims her initial struggle with the transition, but it didn't take long before becoming open-minded and her performance on the field revealed the reward in doing so. At the conclusion of her junior year, Stesha led the team in home runs, was second with the most stolen bases, third with the most RBIs, as well as zero errors defensively in the 53 games that she started at first base.
Brazil's college experience has been anything but ordinary, but she has managed to make the most of it and has grown tremendously not only as a player on the field but as a person as well.
This year marks the first time she's received consecutive college coaching, resulting in a sense of security as Brail and the rest of the Bulldogs are in their fifth week of the 2014 season. With the support of the Bulldog family and a community who embraced the return of local talent, this Bulldog first baseman was given the rare opportunity to follow her heart in which she landed an opportunity she will forever be thankful for.
"I love it, I feel confident because I've had a year to learn everything and all of my trail and error and I guess baby steps and falls are over with," she said. "I know what they expect of me I know what they want now I can make adjustments faster and instead of learning the basics we can talk about little things to fix instead of making big changes and I think it's better because we've all been through it a year so now we know what to expect and we know what the coaches expect from us. We know the coaches and they know us as players."