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Hello Softball Fans and Friends,

Before I begin filling you in on all the fun stuff I've been up to I thought I'd introduce myself so you get a better idea of who I am. My name is Amanda Freed and I'm from Cypress, California, where I played volleyball, soccer and softball for four years at Pacifica High School. I loved being active in all sports but I found my real passion in softball.

Softball as a major element of my life became a reality when I received a scholarship to UCLA, one of the nation's top programs. I am a pitcher, 20 years old and about to begin my junior year at UCLA.

In September I had the honor of being selected as an alternate to the 2000 United States Olympic softball team. Of course when I heard I was asked to be an alternate, I had mixed emotions. At first I was overwhelmed just to be a part of it all, but then I began to think how close I was to actually getting playing time, yet so far. I wanted so badly to make the team but then I looked around and saw the company I was in and thought, "Wow, this is going to be a great experience!''

And it has been. For the last two months we have been playing in the "Central Park to Sydney Tour," traveling to selected cities across the United States preparing for the Olympics in September in Sydney, Australia. From the end of the College World Series in May until the end of the Olympics we will have spent all but two weeks on the road with our team.

Do I ever get homesick? Of course, I miss my family and think about them all the time, but because our team has been growing closer by the day, it's become sort of like a second family to me. The countdown until the Olympics has begun as well as the determination of each player to be at their best when it comes time to perform. So far we have an undefeated record on the tour.

I joined the team a few weeks late in order to finish my college year. I've had the chance to pitch two games as well as play some outfield. The most exciting games are against the WPSL (Women's Pro Softball League) teams because they have given us great competition. The best part about traveling with the Olympic team is getting the opportunity to meet so many new people as well as seeing some of my friends and family that I normally don't get to see because I'm so busy.

Our most recent game was in Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. There we played the Akron Racers in front of an amazing crowd. The field is set right next to Lake Washington, so the atmosphere is beautiful. I've had the privilege of playing there a number of times competing in the Pacific 10 Conference. I felt somewhat awkward being cheered for rather than against in Husky Stadium. Team USA came out ahead 2-1 with Lori Harrigan performing great on the mound and earning MVP of the game.

After the game, the line for the autograph session wrapped all the way around the front of the stadium. It's so neat to see all the fan support, and the excitement of the kids makes doing what I do so much more fun. I wish it was possible for me to remember the names of everybody I've met playing softball or signed a ball for but like I told one of the girls, my new little friend, Michelle, I am so much better at remembering faces!

This afternoon we went to the track and field Olympic trials in Sacramento where the best athletes are competing for an Olympic berth in their events just as we did last September. We waved, standing in the middle of the track, as our team was announced. It's the best feeling knowing that not only are we getting the opportunity to represent our hometowns and families but the entire United States and softball fans everywhere. If it weren't for all of you, this team, as well as the sport itself, would not be where it is today. Thank you all so much for your support as we continue our quest for the gold!

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