Olympic and former OSU softball star
Residence: St. Petersburg, Fla.
A two-time Olympic gold medal-winning pitcher, Michele Smith, a New Jersey native, played softball at Oklahoma State, played professionally 16 years in Japan, was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame last summer and is an ESPN analyst.
I played the first ever game in (ASA Hall of Fame Stadium) when I was at Oklahoma State. To see how far the sport has come I'm so proud. Softball has grown phenomenally. I've been blessed enough to be in it from the beginning, the middle and now as an analyst when it's really taken off.
I speak Japanese after playing there 16 years. I loved living in Japan. The culture and people are wonderful. I love their work ethic. I got to be on the field six hours a day. For some people they may consider that punishment. I considered it a joy.
The people in Japan are some of the most gracious, caring people. They're basically a nation the size of California but with half the population of the U.S. Because they're so densely populated they're very aware of how they affect other people. Whereas Americans are more inwards focused, they're most outward focused.
My greatest thrill was winning two Olympic two gold medals. Every time you slipped on that red, white and blue jersey it was an honor. To play in the Olympics at the highest level is an honor for any athlete in any sport. But it also meant a lot to win eight Japan League championships. Every one of those was special.
Playing at Oklahoma State I'm very proud of the Cowboy nation. Great people have come out of Oklahoma State to make a difference. T. Boone Pickens, Garth Brooks and former athletes have been phenomenal. It takes a very special person to go to school in Stillwater. When I went there it wasn't a university with all the bells and whistles. It was a blue collar type of town. That's what I loved about it.