April 30, 2008
<< Meet The Cardinal
Michelle Smith, Stanford's senior third baseman, hails from Agoura Hills, Calif. and is majoring in human biology. Michelle has started every single game of her Stanford career and will leave the Farm as one of the best players in school history. Michelle has etched her name on the Cardinal career top-10 charts in five offensive categories with 181 hits, 31 doubles, 38 homeruns, 76 walks and 170 RBI. As a freshman in 2005, she ripped a school record 19 homeruns and was named the school's 11th All-American. Today, three years later, Michelle is second only to Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza in career homers, is third in runs batted in and became just the fourth player in school history to record 400 career assists two weeks ago.
Where do you work on campus?
I am currently working as a research assistant with one of our sports medicine doctors on an ACL/hormone study. My job is to recruit some of Stanford's female athletes to participate in the study, and then, once they've given a blood sample, I take the blood to the lab where I centrifuge it and extract the serum that can be analyzed for hormone levels. We are hoping to find a correlation between these hormone levels and ACL tear rates in female athletes. Last year, I received an e-mail from the Human Biology department that mentioned this position. All Human Biology majors must complete an internship as part of their degree requirements, so this study looked like a great way to fill my requirement. While technically I joined the study to fulfill my internship, it was really just a good excuse to get involved in a project that combines two of my favorite subjects: medicine and sports. It's very exciting to be a part of this study because I've witnessed (through teammates and friends) how difficult ACL injuries can be, so it'll be wonderful to retrieve information that can potentially help reduce the frequency of this injury.
What has been your best memory so far with Stanford softball?
It's difficult to pick just one "best" memory from my experiences with Stanford softball. I've had so many good times with my teammates: from our themed parties to airport games (Mary and the clapping game) to Karaoke nights - we can pretty much make any situation memorable. In terms of "on-the-field" memories, beating Fresno State twice on their field to advance to super regionals in 2006 was very exciting. I had a dream the night before about our game, and the first inning of our first game matched my dream almost perfectly - it was kind of creepy.
What makes you interested in going to medical school?
From as far back as I can remember I've wanted to be a doctor (well, only if I couldn't be a dolphin trainer at Sea World or third baseman for the Dodgers). I think the human body is fascinating - all the things it can do or figure out to do. Injuries and illness are like puzzles, and I love solving puzzles. After medical school I would love to specialize in Orthopedic Surgery with a focus in Sports Medicine. I've always been around athletes so I figure it would be the best area for me to work in. That and I'm getting good practice now, seeing as I always try to diagnose my own injuries.
Anything you're "addicted to" or spend a lot of time doing?
Movies! I love movies - all kinds of movies. I went through a period in middle school where I probably saw every single movie released for an entire year. I was at the theater every weekend - it actually got a little expensive after a while; my parents weren't happy, that's for sure. Even now, whenever I get a chance to go home for a little bit (even just a day or so), my sister and I have to make time to fit in one movie theater trip. For an hour and a half, I can escape from the stresses of reality and get immersed in the story. Or, I just need to laugh for a bit.
What is one of your favorite things to do outside of softball?
I think skiing was my first love - at least in terms of sports. That's kind of a problem when you live in southern California - not a whole lot of snow. Every winter from the time I was born until high school my family made at least two trips a year to Park City, UT to go skiing. I loved it, and I was pretty good at it. I even wanted to be an Olympic ski racer, but, again, not really feasible when you don't live near the snow. Unfortunately, my parents "forbid" me to ski once I decided to play softball in college. There was just too much risk of injury that could potentially ruin my career. But, don't worry, skiing is at the top of my list for things I'll be able to do once I've graduated. I guess that'll make it a little easier for me to accept that softball is over.
How would your teammates describe you?
Oh, I would love to know what my teammates really think of me, but if I had to pick, the first thing that comes to mind is "dorky", which for our team is really saying something. I tend to over analyze everything, and I frequently answer questions with a tad bit more information than was probably anticipated or required. I think the phrase "Smitty is such a dork" is utter fairly regularly; but I'm OK with that - I embrace my "dorkiness".
When did you start playing softball?
I started playing softball when I was about 7 years old. My dad and I had played catch before that, but I didn't start playing on a team until then. When I began, I really wanted to be a pitcher. I first learned how to throw "sling-shot" which is still an underhand pitch, but you don't make a full rotation with your arm. I can remember one game where I came in to pitch, but didn't do too well - I think I hit 4 or 5 girls in the head. I guess at the time it was really funny, but looking back I think it's hilarious - no one was hurt, but man, I couldn't find strike zone. When I first decided that I wanted to play softball in college, I thought I would end up at UCLA. I grew up just outside Los Angeles, and my family had always been Bruin fans. However, as soon as I met with Coach Rittman and saw the Stanford campus, everything changed - I HAD to go to Stanford. All UCLA paraphernalia has since been burned (just kidding - it's just been donated to my unfortunate relatives who still cheer for those baby bears).
Michelle's outlook for the week ahead/rest of the season:
"The states of Oregon and Arizona had better watch out because Stanford softball is headed to town."