Former Jayhawk Playing Softball In Russia

June 21, 2006


After a successful athletic career at Kansas, former Jayhawk Jessica Moppin (Olathe, Kan.) looks to hone her softball skills overseas when she travels to Tuchkovo, Russia, to play with the Russian National Team. Moppin, a four-year starter at second base, will practice and play for the Russian squad for two weeks beginning Thursday and return for another three-week session at the end of the summer.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity, but am nervous about the language barrier,” Moppin said. “Since I have never been to Russia, I am attempting to learn about its culture before I go over there so I can better relate to the people.”

The trip will mark Moppin’s first time out of the United States. Moppin, who was contacted by Russian coaches through KU head coach Tracy Bunge, jumped at the chance of playing for the Russian team.

“Since Russia does not have access to sports like we do here, my job will also be to help teach them a little something about the success of the sport in America and the game of softball,” Moppin said. “Hopefully this will give them an escape from their daily lives and maybe apply what they learned to other life opportunities.”

During her time there, she will be staying in a small apartment – located 30 minutes outside of Moscow — and when not playing, will be teaching softball to young girls. Even though plumbing is optional in the housing, the team will have access to phones and the Internet to call home and send e-mails. She will be compensated with a salary and commented that $5 in American money equals $130 in Russian currency.

“I’m excited to see how their lives are different from mine,” Moppin said. “I have been told that they are very warm people so they look forward to seeing where I come from. I’ll take plenty of pictures of my family and will hopefully be able to bring pictures back to show my experiences.”

Along with my taking pictures of her family, Moppin is taking her journal and IPod. There are three girls on the team who speak English, one coach who speaks a little, two other Americans and an interpreter who travels with the team.

“Everyone knows the safe and out signs for softball, so I think I’ll be okay as far as that goes,” Moppin joked about playing and the language issues.

In addition to continuing her softball career, Moppin’s goal of the trip is to also help the Russian team. She explained that the Russian government threatened to discontinue funding for the program if a nationally competitive team was not formed this summer. A total of three U.S. players were picked up to make an immediate impact.

“I hope to be playing middle infield, but you never know — I may be pitcher,” Moppin said. “I just want to help the team. I’m hoping that if I go back next summer I can gain dual citizenship and compete nationally.”

Stay tuned to for updates throughout Moppin’s trip.

–Story by Ashley Goodrich, KU softball letterwinner from 2003-06