April 6, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Softball -- At Cal State Northridge
Sunday: Lobos vs. Cal State Northridge (doubleheader starts at Noon MT)
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Has an actress been born? Lori Sjostrand said she can usually read her daughter, Jordan Sjostrand, like a book. Moms are like that.
But this past Christmas when Jordan came home with a sad face and a sad tale, mom bought it, hook, line and sinker.
"Jordan is not a good actress," said Lori. "Usually, I can read her. But that night she completely fooled me."
Now, it's not like Jordan lied to mom and dad (Rob). Jordan is a good kid, a straight-A student. She told the truth. Hey, it was Christmas time. You don't lie at Christmas. Santa is watching.
But Jordan did put a little twist to her story and added a little twist to her face. Meryl Streep would have been proud.
She told mom and dad that at the UNM Christmas party, Coach Erica Beach had cut her as manager of the New Mexico Lobos softball team. Which was true. The punch line was that Beach was moving Sjostrand to the active roster.
"As I drove home, I knew I couldn't just tell my parents straight up," said Sjostrand. "So, I told them the coaches pulled me aside at the Christmas party and told me they didn't need me as a manager any more. It wasn't a lie.
"My parents had these sad faces and looked at me like, `You're kidding.' Then I added, `because they want me on the team.'"
Said Lori: "I thought, `this isn't right. I'm not happy right now.' I can't believe she pulled it off."
"Said Jordan: "It was a crazy night. That was the best Christmas gift I ever got."
Yeah, this is one of those dreams-come-true stories. Local girl goes off to East Coast College. Local girl isn't happy and comes home. Local girl tries out for local college team, but doesn't make the team. Local girl hangs around as manager.
However, this story gets even better. Usually, if a manager gets called up to the active roster, it's because there is a need for a warm body to fill out practice holes. Usually, the ex-manager gets to wear a uniform and maybe keep the scorebook or the pitch count.
Not so for Sjostrand, who at Eldorado, was one of the state's top hitters. She is UNM's starting first baseman, starting 32 of the Lobos' 32 games. The player who had only one at-bat for Binghamton University last year is hitting .302 with five home runs for a Top 30 team.
"I'm having such a great time," said the UNM sophomore. "We have so much fun out here and the coaches have so much confidence in all of us. They have made me love this game again.
"When I left New York, I didn't love the game anymore. It was a job. It was a hassle. It's not a job anymore. It's fun and we all love being out here. We are such a team."
Sjostrand played softball for three seasons for Albuquerque's Eldorado High, but transferred to Rio Rancho for her senior year. As a transfer, she could not play and joined the Rams' team as the manager.
"It was hard not playing my senior year, but I kept with my summer team (New Mexico Sundancers)," said Sjostrand. "And I had already signed, so I knew I was going somewhere."
Sjostrand left Albuquerque for Binghamton University in New York. It didn't work out.
"New York was just a different culture and the weather was terrible," said Sjostrand. "It was rainy every day or snowing. I need the sun to be happy.
"There were a lot of rude people who seemed to always be in a hurry. It made me realize how much I love it back here at home. I guess I'm not an East Coast girl."
However, Sjostrand was still a softball player. When UNM held tryouts prior to the 2011-12 school year, Sjostrand tried out and looked pretty good.
""We liked her at tryouts, a lot, but we were maxed out on our roster," said Beach. "We just didn't have room."
Said Sjostrand: "It was a different time in my life. When I came back home, I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to play again. But I decided to try out and then was asked to be a manager. I wasn't mad, but I was disappointed. I decided to do it and see if something good would come out of it."
For sure, something good came out of it - for Sjostrand, for the Lobos. Beach's roster took a hit with injuries, a player dismissal, and some suspensions. There was now a spot for a good softball player -- if the Lobos could convince one to give up that manager job.
"She got a little teary-eyed when we told her," said Beach. "Then she had to hit the ground running, but she is doing great things for us. She has passed my expectations and I'm so happy to see her playing the sport she loves and playing for a school she loves in front of her hometown.
"We are so happy to have her out here."
And Jordan is happy to be there. The Southwest girl is back home.