March 19, 2009

Seven Questions with Heidi Helberg

March 19, 2009

Stockton, Calif- Heidi Helberg (Brenwood, Calif.) is a 2005 graduate of Liberty High School in Brentwood, Calif., where she was a four-year letterwinner in softball. In addition, Heidi earned one varsity letter for basketball while at Liberty. She was born in Roseville, Calif., and is the daughter of Jeff and Raema Helberg. She has one younger brother, Sam. In her fourth year at Pacific, Heidi is majoring in business administration.

During her junior season, Heidi gave Pacific 64 innings of work in 22 appearances as a pitcher, including eight starts and three complete games. She also did some damage as a hitter with a .333 batting average, second-best on the team. As a sophomore, she pitched 28.2 innings in 15 appearances, including one start. Heidi posted a 3-0 record and a 3.17 ERA for Pacific in relief. In her first season as a Tiger, Heidi saw action in 18 games, starting two contests.

What is your greatest memory playing softball at Pacific?

My fondest memory at Pacific was during my sophomore year in 2007. We all piled into cars and drove to our Sports Information Director's house to watch the results of the Regionals to see if we had made it into the tournament.

We were all sitting around on the floor when our name popped up on the screen. We all looked at each other in amazement then just started going crazy. Everyone was jumping around screaming and hugging each other. The reactions on our coach's faces were nuts. We were all totally stoked. We were put into the same bracket as Arizona, which happened to be where our coach Mikel Candrea's dad is the head coach. It worked out that we got to play against them.

Other great memories I have are just being around the girls everyday. It was great getting to create new relationships and find some lifelong friends. I made some new bonds with these girls that I will never forget. All my roommates are on the team. They really become members your extended family.

The biggest game you played in at Pacific?

The biggest game I have been a part of was in 2007 during the Regionals. We were in a position to win and reach the semi-finals. I came in to pitch after Chelsea Engle and was able to get the outs I needed. I had a grounder, a pop up, and a strike out.

We won and advanced to the semi-finals against Arizona. I don't remember how we got the last out, but Mikel sprinted out on the field and ran straight for me. I remember thinking "woah! What is going on?" I thought I was going to get tackled. Everyone was crying and was so excited.

What is the biggest difference between high school and college athletics?

There is a huge difference between high school and college. Everyone is bigger faster, stronger, and the work ethic is so different. We've had a different strength coach every year at Pacific so it's always a shock when the next guy works us harder than the last.

On the field, the game is a lot faster than in high school because everyone is so much better. College sports are much less diluted than in high school. Here, everyone is the best of the best from their high school. It is also difficult to learn new roles. All of us were starters in high school, and all of the sudden we had to learn to be ready to come off the bench. It was tough having to play the dues as a freshman. Learning the new plays and signs was a challenge.

School is much different too. You don't have to go to class, but believe me, you do want to go. Missing class really stresses me out. We miss enough during the season as it is. What is nice is you don't have to go to class for eight hours straight like in high school. You are able to set your schedule around practice or anything else I have to do. I only have to take three to five classes a semester, which is nice.

Did you play any other sports before taking up softball full time?

When I was little I did tap and jazz, ballet, and gymnastics, but all of those didn't really work out. In second grade I took piano and voice lessons, but that didn't really last long either. I started playing t-ball when I was five and softball when I was about eight.

I was also pretty good at basketball. I always played at a higher level than the others in my grade from third grade until my sophomore year in high school. When I was in sixth grade there were three of us who would go over to a different school to play on the seventh grade team. I don't know if it was legal, but it somehow worked out. I also would have played football, but my dad wouldn't let me.

I made the junior varsity team as a freshman in high school. Half way through the year I moved up to varsity. I eventually stopped playing basketball because I didn't like the varsity coach. I think I lost my passion because of that, which is unfortunate because I still miss playing.

What are some of your hobbies other than softball?

When not playing softball I like to be able to have some down time with friends and family. I'm extremely involved with sports because of my athletic family. I love to play tennis and catch with the football. I'm also really into makeup, hair and fashion. I'm not your typical athlete.

My dad played college football for Portland State and my mom played softball at Sierra JC. My little brother plays soccer, basketball, baseball, and has played football. He broke his leg recently so he cant really do anything now, but wants to play soccer at a junior college. He's so fast. He's awesome.

We've always had extreme family support ever since we were little. I always have my mom, dad or grandma at my games. At least one of them are there every time. It's unusual so I really appreciate it. They're always there for everything.

What was your most embarrassing moment on the field?

When I was about 15 or 16 years old I full on slipped and fell on the pitcher's mound at one of our ASA tournaments. My shoelace got caught in one of my spikes and I just went down. I remember my dad just shaking his head. The worst thing was there were a ton of people because there were a lot of teams in the tournament.

I do things like that all the time. The other day I almost fell in the dugout. I was in metal spikes and the ground was wet. It's not a good combination. I should have known better though. My first time in metal spikes I was in the restroom in our team clubhouse and I slid in two different directions. Now I have to take baby steps when I'm wearing them.

What advice would you give to a student athlete coming to Pacific next year?

As a student athlete, if you can make to class, definitely go to class. You miss enough during the season. Stay up on any work or assignments. It really helps to communicate with your professors. They are usually pretty understanding about having to miss class due to travel, and they are more willing to work with you if you are communicating.

My last piece of advice is to just have a good time. You're supposed to have fun, but get your work done too. People always say it goes by fast, and it really does. I remember being a freshman, now all of the sudden I'm a senior.