Stacey Nuveman traveled to Sydney in the summer of 2000 as the top college
power hitter of all-time.
The La Verne native returned as an international star.
Nuveman blasted the game-winning homer versus China in the semifinals
and drove in the tying run as Team USA rallied to beat Japan for Olympic
Now four years later, Nuveman looks to repeat her success for USA. The
1996 St. Lucy's graduate recently played for USA in an Aiming For Athens
Pre-Olympic Tour game March 28 at her alma mater UCLA. This marked the
25th game of the tour for Team USA, but the first with Nuveman active
on the roster. The catcher struck out in her one at-bat as a pinch hitter.
Nuveman underwent surgery in January to mend a stress fracture in her
right foot. Sidelined for two weeks after the surgery, she is still in
recovery mode. The adrenaline of playing her alma mater is the only reason
she batted at UCLA.
"Anybody else but UCLA I wouldn't have gone in," she said.
Nuveman should be a fixture behind the plate and in the lineup by the
time Team USA plays again. In the midst of a 50-day break between games,
USA players will rest up before putting their 136 straight pre-Olympic
tour win streak on the line. Team USA plays May 17 at San Antonio with
22 more games scheduled before the Olympics.
This past week, Nuveman took advantage of the break by spending time with
her husband at their new home. She married Mark Deniz on Dec. 31 in Glendora
and the couple moved to Visalia, located about a 45-minute drive South
"I wouldn't really know (about the married life)," she said.
"It almost feels like how it was when we were dating with my traveling.
It's awesome to have Mark's support full time. I know he's behind me 100
Nuveman said she rings up the cell phone bill calling her husband and
parents Tom and Susan as she travels across the country and soon the world.
But since she turned softball into a profitable career, she can afford
to pay the bill.
Nuveman brings in the money through endorsements. She endorses Adidas
footwear, Worth catcher mitts and Schutt Sports catcher equipment. The
USOC and USA Softball chip in money for travel expenses.
1996 St. Lucy's High grad
Birthdate: April 26, 1978
Birthplace: La Verne
Member of 2004 USA Olympic team
2002 World Championships gold medalist
2000 Olympic gold medalist
1999 Pan-Am gold medalist
2002 NCAA Player of the Year
2002 USA Collegiate Player of the Year
Three-time NCAA Division 1 Catcher of the Year
Three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year
NCAA DI CAREER RECORDS
Home runs (90)
Slugging percentage (.945)
UCLA CAREER RECORDS (1997, 99, 2001-02)
Batting average (.466)
Slugging percentage (.945)
Home runs (90)
Bases on balls (240)
UCLA SEASON RECORDS
Home runs (31 - 1999)
RBIs (91 - 1999)
Base on balls (77 - 2001)
"It's a peacemeal way we make our money but it's doable at this level,"
she said. "When you get to this point in your life and realize you
can make a living playing softball it's hard to imagine doing anything
else. I can't imagine working 9-5."
Nuveman plans to play at least another four years so that she can win
a third gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- assuming of course
she wins a second this summer.
If she wins multiple gold medals that will put her in elite company, but
Nuveman already secured her place in softball lore with her record-setting
career at UCLA.
"It would be fair to say that Stacey Nuveman is the most prolific
hitter in the history of softball. That's really a fair statement to make,"
UCLA coach Sue Enquist said.
Enquist spoke in glowing terms about Nuveman for good reason. She belted
90 career home runs for the Bruins topping the previous NCAA record of
85 and holds the UCLA career records for batting average (.466), slugging
percentage (.945), RBIs (299) and bases on balls (240).
Enquist expected Nuveman to star the minute she stepped foot on the UCLA
campus. After seeing her in person, Enquist knew she could hit the ball
a mile, though her high school statistics indicated otherwise. Nuveman
blasted shot after shot, but hit only one home run her senior year.
"In high school, opponents didn't have fences so instead of playing
at a routine distance the outfield was playing deep, deep, deep,"
former St. Lucy's coach Dave Confair said.
A fenceless ballpark is about the only way to stop Nuveman from hitting
homers. As soon as her stress fracture is fully healed, she will be smashing
balls out of sight and more importantly leading Team USA to victory.
"As long as we're winning it I don't care if I go 0 for the tournament."
Slim chance. Nuveman will probably send more than her fair share of balls
soaring in Athens.
Thomas St. Myer can be reached at (909) 483-9368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.