An interview with Above All Landscaping/EVO9X/Miken shortstop Jesse Campanelli!
Interview conducted on 11/20/2015
Who are you playing with in 2016?
What positions do you play and what is your best position?
Shortstop and outfield but haven't played any OF in years.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen play?
Jason Hill -( Canadian fast pitch player)
Why do you like the game of softball?
I love the game of softball because I enjoy being a part of a team, it's like a huge family of bigger brothers (everyones bigger in the conference) relying on one another to do their part to best contribute to the family. I love the fact that it's not a sprint but rather a marathon and should be played more like a chess game at times. I enjoy that perfection is impossible in this game but battling past the lows is rewarded by extreme highs.
Who is the best up and coming player in softball and why?
I wouldn't have the slightest idea, I feel like everyone I see in the conference has incredible potential and being so new myself, I have no idea who's upcoming and a veteran.
What is your nickname in softball and how did you get it?
Cowboy – I'm a Jersey boy with long hair who wears cowboy boots, cowboy hats, belt buckles, and listens to country music.
Spiderman, praying mantis, and crouching tiger are also a few I've heard since playing in the conference also.
What is your height and weight?
Where do you call home?
Rahway, New Jersey
AKA -Spanktown (home of the battle of Spanktown)
What's your favorite way to spend an off weekend?
Sunday funday… Doubleheader of wood bat league ball in the morning, sponsors bar by noon.
What do you do for a living?
Physical education and health teacher
High school wrestling coach
Did you play sports in High School / College / Pro?
I was a high school cross country runner, wrestler and baseball player. I played college baseball for a community college in 2002, 2003 as a catcher. Suffered a broken collar bone in a collision at home plate so took about 8 years off and then was a walk-on pitcher at Montclair state university in 2011.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
I started playing league ball and was asked to play in a tournament. I started playing fast pitch before I became big into slow pitch tournaments. I was spoiled as we won a Major ASA National and a 3rd World in my first year playing fastpitch tournament ball. I didn't become serious with slow pitch until about 2011 when I was asked to play with Above All by Joe Benanti and Russ Banasiak (God Bless his soul). I've been with Above All ever since.
What was the most surprising difference between Conference play and non-Conference play when you made the jump?
Hitters are much smarter, defenders are much better, everyone can hit at this level.
Is there a player that you would compare your game to?
What would you say is your career highlight to this point? Maybe one play or game that sticks out to you in particular?
B worlds – 2014 Friday night espn3 streamed game against B&B … I hit a huge 3 run homer in the bottom of the 6th to take the lead. Anyone who knows me is aware that I rarely ever swing for home runs so it was a very exciting moment for the whole team as we went on to win that game.
In your career was there a single person (player/manager/coach) who had the most significant impact on your approach to the game? Why?
Greg "cakes" sekac from when I started playing slowpitch softball and Russ Banasiak and Willie Allen when I entered the conference scene. Cakes taught me to use the whole field and keep working on my craft. What Russ would always tell me to stay humble but know how good you really are, play your game and not the game everyone else wants you to play. Willie influences the way I play the game every time I take the field with him.
What advice can you give a young player trying to break into the upper level?
Be prepared for the drama, ego's, and cutthroat business once you enter the upper level. The talent is without a doubt better across the board, the pitching is much much better, and defenses are more finely tuned. Hitters will pick apart holes and keep working hard continuing to get better but remember this, stats are a majority of all that matters at the upper level.
What type of batting grip do you use and what ounce bat?
"Conventional grip" (that's for you Mike Dill)
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next softball season?
I coach high school wrestling. I train 6 days a week on the mat with my guys. Not much gets you in better shape then throwing body weight around for 3 hours a day. After practices I play wall ball on the mats so I can work on my quick hand drills, diving drills, and arm strength. We also hit once or twice a week with the local guys from above all.
What is your favorite sports team and your favorite sport other than softball?
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
I have many, too many. The common ones are I have to put my left cleat on before my right, left batting glove before right, tap my bat over the plate then on the plate before each pitch… And about 20 more.
What would be your "at bat" music selection?
Crazy train- Ozzy
What is the best improvement upper level softball could make?
I know it works and will never happen but… Aluminum bats, better yet, wood bats!
What is your favorite non-World tournament and why?
I enjoy the space city classic. I love playing on the replica fields and all the fields are excellent to play infield on.
What is the best softball field/complex you have played at and why?
Oklahoma City because the fields are phenomenal.
Where is the best place to eat on the road after a game?
Texas roadhouse if you have time, Chick fil A if you're just trying to grab a quick bite.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
Probably the time a player tapped the plate with his bat and it just snapped completely in half…. Not that funny but pretty hilarious at the moment.
Tell us something about you that most would never know about you?
I enjoy playing the outfield more than the infield but never am allowed to. I also love to play first base as well.
What was your favorite sports related gift you have ever given or received?
I was given an autographed picture of my favorite childhood baseball player … Donny Baseball #23