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Meet NW softball star, Jana Sanden.

POSTED March 25, 2020
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Jana Sandan

Northwestern Region 7 Softball Senior

Signed to play at University of Connecticut. Fall 2020 

How long have you been playing Softball?

I’ve been playing softball since I was seven years old. 

Do you play other sports?

Yes, I play Varsity soccer and Varsity basketball. 

What is it about softball that made you decide it was your sport?

When I was young, I had really knowledgeable and motivating coaches who helped build the foundations of skills, coaching in a way that was interesting and fun. It made me always enjoy stepping onto the field and it has carried on to this day. 

Talk about your family. Did any members play sports? Do you have siblings. If so, tell me about them.

I have an older sister Sydney, who I have played all three varsity sports within high school. We also played on the same travel team together, the CT Eliminators, for four years. Today, she attends UMASS Boston where she plays softball and continues her education to become a nurse. I have a younger brother Justin who is in eighth grade. He is on the track team and he plays basketball for the middle school. My cousin Emily Briggs plays on the Tufts Women’s Basketball team and her older brother William Briggs is on the Bucknell Track and Field team. I also have a Cousin Austen Royer who plays Rugby at Brown University. 

Tell me about your softball career. First organized, AAU, High School etc.

When I was nine years old, I joined a travel team called the CT Eliminators. I played on this team until I was 16. For the past two years I have played for the NJ Batbusters travel team where I have traveled to Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey to play. Almost every weekend in the fall, I have traveled 3 ½ hours to New Jersey for our practices or for games. It was worth it because this team enabled me to play against some of the best competition in the country. When I was a freshman, I began my high school softball career as the starting varsity third baseman. I earned all-conference recognition. Sophomore year, I became the starting shortstop and also earned all-conference recognition again. Junior year, as the shortstop, I earned all-conference and All State recognition. I also played in the junior select game. 

When did you start thinking UConn was for you? 

Growing up, UConn was always a dream school for me. There is a lot of Husky pride in Connecticut and it’s an excellent educational institution. 

What do you think you will major in at UConn?

I am considering majoring in education or possibly a math field. 

Tell me about the UConn coaches and what they thought of you. 

I met the UConn coaches this summer and I felt like I had an instant connection with them and everything just fell into place. 

What sold you on them?

On my unofficial visit, I was able to tour the school and I fell in love with the educational opportunities, the campus, the coaches, and the athletic facilities. 

What does it mean to be a Highlander?

A Highlander to me is being part of a very supportive environment. Not only do students support each other, but the faculty supports the students as well. Administration has a personal connection with each student, forming close bonds with them. During sporting events, not only is the fan section filled with students, but faculty is always there to support too. The community we have is so supportive of each and everything we do whether it’s a play, a club, or a sport. 

Tell me about some of your best moments on the diamond.

Some of the best moments I’ve ever had in softball was winning the Berkshire League for the third time in a row this year. Also, when I was a freshman, Gina Weingart took a team selfie after each game, when she graduated, I took over that responsibility of taking the signature Snapchat selfies. When I graduate, I will pass that onto the next person. Most of my best moments were from playing with my sister. We made a handshake that we would do in between every inning. 

You said you play middle infield. Which do you play more?

I play shortstop the most. I primarily play shortstop on travel and high school, but I have played third, second, and even first base. 

Supply me with any stats you want me to know about.

As a junior, I hit my 100th hit, finished my year with a .667 batting average, and hit 11 home runs. 

What is your ideal career?

I want a career that enables me to become a coach. I am leaning toward something in the education field because I did a mentorship at my school and I really enjoyed it and would love to be able to coach as well. 

How will your team look this spring at NW?

From last season, we lost seven seniors. We will have a lot of spots to fill but I am confident that the younger players will step up and fill the positions! 

Some extra information.

The best thing about my softball experience from all these years, was the connections I’ve made with my coaches and teammates. I feel a special connection with my high school coach Mrs. Zematis who gave me the opportunity right at the beginning of my freshman year. By playing on a travel team in Connecticut, I was able to meet and form bonds with so many different people across Connecticut. Playing on a New Jersey team allowed me to bond with people from other states. Many of which I will be playing against in college! 

I’d also like to give a shoutout to my parents, Paula and Jon Sanden, to thank them for everything they’ve done in supporting me throughout my career. Endless love for you guys! 

Thank you to my hitting coach, Coach Mac, for all that you’ve done for me. 

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