Ally Carda's Recent Personal Journey Helped Her Make Team USA
Ally Carda's journey to the United States Olympic softball team wasn't a walk in the park. Carda, who was a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year and First Team All-American during her stellar playing career at UCLA, was named an alternate this past summer for Team USA at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
To boot, the 26-year-old utility player was a member of Team USA's "B" team the previous summer, which left an indelible impression on Carda that forced her to look within herself and make some changes.
"It was tough when I didn’t make the 'A' team two summers ago," Carda told Softball America. "And this past summer, I was an alternate, so I had to take it upon myself to get to the next level."
In addition to her physical training, Carda recently spent time developing the mental and emotional side of herself as an athlete.
"I’ve definitely matured as an athlete," said Carda, who admitted to joyously screaming while alone in her car after learning that she had made the U.S. Olympic team. "Honestly, I’m super proud of the person I’ve become in the past year and a half and how I’ve stuck with it and stayed positive."
The 2015 UCLA graduate, who has been with the USA Softball program since the end of her time with the Bruins, credits more than just herself for the personal development she's recently undergone. Besides her family and UCLA coaches, she says she also has two-time Olympian Kelly Kretschman to thank for the progress she has made in her life.
"[She] has been a huge part of my life and my softball journey," Carda, who was the pitching coach at Cal Poly from 2015 to 2019, said. "She’s just helped me with my confidence and my demeanor on the mound. She’s helped me take it to the next level."
Kretschman earned a gold medal with Team USA at the Athens Games in 2004 and a silver at the Beijing Games in 2008. She also had one of the best-ever careers as a professional player in National Pro Fastpitch, which just ended in August when she announced her retirement from the league.
"She’s shared a lot of her stories with me, which has been awesome, but now that it’s actually here and real and I’m going to be living it, I definitely think her advice and guidance will be a huge part of it," added Carda, who is also a member of the NPF's Chicago Bandits. "She just gets it."
Apart from her recent mental and emotional growth, Carda is proud of the way she trained in the weeks and months leading up to the USA Softball Olympic Team Selection Trials that occurred in Oklahoma City earlier this month.
"I take the most pride in the way I work out," Carda stated. "For me, personally, it gives me the confidence on the field to know that I’ve put myself in the best position to succeed. I do hit, play first and pitch, so in my opinion, I need to be in the best shape possible."
Carda's versatility on the softball diamond is perhaps what makes her such an asset for Team USA going into next summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"I’m good when I’m bouncing around a little bit, rather than sticking with one thing and only thinking about that one thing," Carda said. "It helps me and opens up my focus a little bit."
Now that the Selection Trials are behind her, Carda will have nine months to prepare for the biggest softball stage in the world.
"I’m excited that we are finally just going to be able to train together full time and be on the road together," she said. "That’s going to be the most fun part."