Jan. 17, 2014
Leading into the 2014 season, we will be posting Q&A's with our four freshmen on rolltide.com. This week, we're chatting with Chandler Dare, an outfielder from Tuscaloosa, Ala.
How did you get your start playing softball? Did you play any other sports?
"When I was younger, probably about 3 or 5 years old, my dad and I would go in the back yard and play catch. Eventually I started playing tee-ball and it went from there. Besides softball I also played basketball, danced and ran cross country and track."
At what point did you narrow your focus to softball?
"When I was 8 years old, I went to a travel ball tryout. I had never heard of travel ball before, but someone asked me to go and I agreed. When I got there, I realized it was pretty serious. Since then, I realized it was what I wanted to do."
When did it turn from a hobby to something you'd like to pursue at the next level?
"I went to my first camp, like a 10-and-under camp, at Alabama. I went there, really enjoyed it and told everyone I wanted to play there some day. Everyone said `OK' but they also told me I was really small and that it might happen but no one really took it seriously. I really loved it though and I worked at it every day. My dad and I practiced non-stop. I knew I was going to play at Alabama someday."
What was the recruiting process like? Were there any other schools you were looking at?
"I wasn't really looking anywhere besides Alabama because it was my dream school. I did have other people looking at me and I took some visits but Alabama was the only thing on my mind."
When and how did you finally commit to Alabama?
"I came on an unofficial visit my ninth-grade year and another one my tenth-grade year. I was talking with Coach [Patrick] Murphy on the phone one night, just keeping in contact, and he made me the offer over the phone. That was on November 8th of my sophomore year. I told him I'd call him back after I ask my parents, but I pretty much knew I was going to accept it. My parents were really excited and I called him right back immediately and said yes."
The SEC is arguably the most competitive conference in softball. What do you think makes you an SEC-caliber player?
"I think my work ethic is my strongest asset. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Whatever anyone asks me to do, I'll do it. I love to play against the best competition and I knew the SEC was the place for that."
What was your first experience with college softball like this past fall?
"The game is a lot faster in college. The pitching is completely different and it will be even tougher in the spring. It was really exciting getting on the field at Rhoads Stadium for the first time. It was really cool because I had always dreamed of playing here and finally stepping on the field for the first time was like a dream come true. I'm just excited to see what happens."
You're filling some big shoes in the outfield with the departure of Kayla Braud, as well as playing alongside some of the best outfielders in the country. What is that like?
"Being able to work with [Associate Head Coach] Aly[son Habetz] is great because she knows everything there is to know about playing in the outfield and softball in general. Being out there with Haylie [McCleney], Andrea [Hawkins] and Kallie [Case] is great. They're all great ball players. I'm just going to go out there and fight for a position. I want to do whatever it takes and learn from the other girls and just take everything in. Left field is a big spot to fill with Braud leaving but I just want to do whatever I can to help the team."
What are some of your goals for the season, both individually and as a team?
"As a team, our goal is to win the national championship again. That's the main goal. Individually, I just want to improve. I want to improve my mental aspect of the game and I just want to do my best and see what this year has to offer and work
Who were some of your biggest inspirations growing up?
"My dad was the biggest inspiration, but outside of my family my biggest inspiration was [former Stanford and Team USA outfielder] Jessica Mendoza. She came to a camp for my travel team and I met her and told her I was going to Alabama. It blew me away to meet her. I've always admired her slapping technique and followed what she's done ever since I was young."
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