The shortstop and 24 Hour Fitness team member talks Team USA’s big win in the Dominican Republic, and what’s next.
In September, the United States sent its men’s national fast-pitch softball team to the Dominican Republic to fight for a spot at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru. With more than a dozen countries represented, Team USA took home the bronze, placing in the top six countries that will move on to the 2019 games.
24Life caught up with Team USA shortstop and 24 Hour Fitness Operations Manager Jenner Christiansen to ask about his journey to Team USA, how he and the team are preparing for the 2019 games in Peru and what he has learned about himself in this process.
24Life: How did you get chosen for Team USA?
Jenner Christiansen (JC): Every year, 40 U.S. athletes are selected try out at a men’s national team selection camp. This involves the selection committee and coaching staff. During the camp, the selection committee and coaching staff make their picks. I have been to the selection camps the past four years but this is the first year I made the final cut.
24Life: How did you mentally and physically prepare to try out for Team USA?
JC: I trained really hard with my friends and local team. I set daily goals along with monthly and annual goals. 24 Hour Fitness has always been a huge part of my success and training routine.
To get mentally prepared I [told] myself I have earned this, I have trained and prepared myself and I’m ready to represent my country.
24Life: How long have you been playing softball?
JC: I’ve played baseball and basketball my whole life. After I was done playing college basketball, I needed something to fulfill my competitive nature. I joined a local fast-pitch softball league. One thing lead to another and I started playing on a travel team. I worked my way up to one of the top teams in the world and was selected to try out for Team USA.
24Life: Tell us about your experience playing for Team USA in the Dominican Republic in September.
JC: Visiting the Dominican Republic was an amazing experience. I enjoyed every minute of it. We played one game a day. It started with pool play. We played seven games, and then playoffs started. [The countries represented were] Venezuela, United States, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Aruba, Brazil, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama.
Venezuela took the gold, Argentina silver and the U.S. finished in third with the bronze, and qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru!
24Life: How are you and the rest of your team preparing and training for the 2019 Pan American Games?
JC: For this upcoming season, I joined the New York Gremlins. We are currently ranked number two in the world. I’m getting prepared by training at 24 Hour Fitness and with my local team in California.
Unfortunately the members on Team USA are all from over the United States, so we do not have the ability to practice together. We train on our own and play against each other when we travel to tournaments.
24Life: What countries will Team USA be playing against in the 2019 games?
JC: The six teams that qualified for the 2019 Games are USA, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia and Dominican Republic. The last time Team USA medaled was 2003. So the medal in the Dominican Republic was a step in the right direction. If we win or medal in Peru we will be extremely excited and have accomplished so much!
24Life: What have you learned about yourself playing for Team USA?
JC: I have learned so much about myself during this experience with Team USA. I have learned how to be patient, set and reach my goals, push myself to always get better and stay consistent.
Photo credit: Courtesy of USA Softball