UCLA's Megan Faraimo Found Her 'Mamba Mentality'
Los Angeles is known for its star status, and UCLA ace Megan Faraimo is no exception.
Faraimo was named Softball America’s top pitcher of the month in March after posting a perfect 7-0 record, three shutouts, 90 strikeouts and a 0.72 ERA. The redshirt junior credited her success to her support system and “Mamba Mentality.”
Last year, Faraimo did not travel with UCLA to the Women’s College World Series due to an injured right hand. She felt helpless and like she failed her team as a result.
“Obviously, we didn't get the outcome we wanted, and I felt like I could have done more as a teammate,” Faraimo said. “I felt like I let my team down.”
Never wanting to feel like that again, Faraimo dedicated her summer to becoming the best version of herself for her team. Instead of going back home to Oceanside, Calif., Faraimo stayed in Los Angeles to minimize distractions.
Kobe Bryant has served as a role model for Faraimo because of the world-class athlete he was and the signature “Mamba Mentality” he possessed. Knowing the mental aspect of the game is just as important as the physical aspect, Faraimo worked on obtaining the “Mamba Mentality” by reading and watching documentaries about it. Trying to imitate Kobe, Faraimo scheduled workouts that began at 6 a.m., made a strict nutrition regimen and mentally trained herself to stay focused.
On the days that were harder to get up in the morning, she thought back to the disappointing end to her 2021 season.
“My motivation is my team,” Faraimo said. “That's what I was thinking about every time I didn't want to wake up or go work out. I just thought about what I could be doing for my team, and how they worked so hard. They deserve a teammate who's going to work as hard as them, if not harder.”
A comfortable and confident Megan Faraimo stepped onto campus in September. Faraimo not only saw her hard work from the summer pay off in the fall, but also when she received an email saying she made the 2022 Team USA roster.
“Once I did get that email, I just felt so honored and blessed,” Faraimo said. “All my hard work coming into that tryout and how I had performed in my college career previously was just sort of recognized in that moment. All the sacrifices my family made and all their support was honored by that, so I felt really blessed.”
Faraimo's 2022 season did not start exactly the way she had hoped. Opposing offenses gave her all she could handle, as Faraimo gave up nine home runs, 14 earned runs and a walk-off home run against Northwestern.
What kept Faraimo from obtaining a negative mindset during that time was the mental toughness she built over the summer, as well as the influence of UCLA pitching coach Lisa Fernandez.
“I remember sitting down and having serious heart-to-hearts with Coach Lisa because at some point I literally just couldn't understand,” Faraimo said. “I was giving home runs up on mistakes, I was giving home runs up on good pitches, and she just kept telling me I'm supposed to be learning something and it's all going to be fine as long as I do something about it.”
After one of her conversations with Fernandez, Faraimo decided to simplify the game and focus on what she can control—giving her best effort, her mechanics and hitting her spots.
“I can throw the greatest pitch of my entire life and someone could still be sitting on it and rake it out,” Faraimo said. “So that was just my mentality of just doing everything I could that was within my abilities to make sure I was doing everything right.”
Faraimo's hard work and focus have certainly paid dividends for UCLA this season. The Bruins are currently ranked No. 5 in Softball America's Top 25 with a record of 33-5.
“I've never really experienced a team like this,” Faraimo said. “They're so light and airy and unique. When you think of UCLA softball, you think of loose vibes, but when we need to focus on the game, we’ll focus.”
And Faraimo believes the best is yet to come for both her team and herself this season.
“I feel like there's just so much more potential to be squeezed out,” Faraimo said. “I feel like I had been getting almost lucky. I think it might be the game knowing.”