Throwback Thursday--Jessica Moppin

Sept. 30, 2010

Throwback Thursday Archives

Jessica Moppin (softball, 2003-06)

A native of Olathe, Kan., Moppin helped the Jayhawks to their first-ever Big 12 Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals as a senior in 2006. An All-Big 12 Second Team selection and Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree, she also finished her Kansas career among KU’s top 10 hitting leaders in home runs (third), RBI (eighth) and total bases (sixth). After spending a season with the Russian National team, Moppin returned to Kansas Athletics for an internship for a year, before accepting her current job with Parris Communications in Kansas City.

What have you been doing since you left KU?

“After graduation I played professionally in Russia on the Russian National team. I was able to travel throughout Europe and play teams from all around the world. It was an incredible experience, but the season only lasted three to four months out of the year. I had to hang up my cleats and find a ‘real job.’ I came back to Lawrence and became an intern in the media relations and event management departments for Kansas Athletics. From there I landed an intern position for a strategic communications firm located on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, called Parris Communications. After two months as an intern, Parris offered me a full-time position. I’ve been with Parris for the past three years and living in downtown Kansas City.”

Describe what you do at your current job?

Parris Communications is a full-service strategic communications firm, specializing in public relations, community outreach campaigns, crisis communications and public issues management. Our broad range of services include:

  • New product launches
  • Media relations campaigns
  • Blog and social marketing campaigns
  • Strategic communications planning
  • Advertising campaign development
  • Community outreach efforts
  • Special event management
  • Speechwriting
  • Crisis communications plan development, training and implementation
  • Media and presentation training
  • Public issues management

I assist in the development and execution of a variety of strategic communications campaigns. I currently provide counsel and support to clients such as Smashburger, Cambria Cove, the University of Kansas Athletic Department, Polsinelli Shughart Law Firm, and I’ve assisted with AMC Entertainment Inc., the Community Blood Center, Insight School of Kansas, Insight School of Colorado and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System.

One of the perks of the job is being able to meet and work with some significant people, starting with the CEO of my company, Roshann Parris, who served as a Lead Advance person on the White House Presidential Advance Team, accompanying President and Mrs. Clinton on their travels worldwide during their eight years in office. She currently helps with Michelle Obama’s Advance Team on various trips. For example, I was recently able to assist her during Michelle Obama’s trip to Kansas City for the NAACP convention and be involved with Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Overland Park, Kan., in 2009.”

What made you want to start playing softball?

“I come from a softball family and grew up at the ballpark. My dad has coached for more than 35 years, my two older sisters have played since they were little and my older brother played baseball. I looked up to my siblings and wanted to follow in their footsteps. My dad coached my team from tee ball to high school. He instilled his passion and respect for the game in me. I played other sports, but I always felt more comfortable on the diamond and had the skills to make it to the next level.”

What led you to KU?

“I’m from Olathe, Kan., just 40 miles from Lawrence. I narrowed my school choices down to those that were within driving distance from my hometown – Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. I wanted my parents to be able to drive to see as many of my games as possible since they spent all the time and money on me growing up to travel the country for softball tournaments. I also wanted to play for a Big 12 school because it’s such a strong softball conference. From the time I stepped onto the KU campus for my official visit, I knew I needed to be a Jayhawk. It felt like home. From the coaches to the girls on the team to the entire athletic department, it all fit for me. And I made the right choice!”

Favorite softball/personal memory from KU?

“From a softball standpoint, hands down, winning the Big 12 tournament my senior year. Coming in as the sixth seed and beating Oklahoma in the championship game is something I’ll never forget. Knowing what that year’s team was capable of and finally showing the rest of the conference what we knew all along was a great feeling.

The memories I cherish the most are the times with my teammates. Growing as ball players and people for four years–with Heather Stanley, Nettie Fierros and Destiny Frankenstein. Those girls will always have a place in my heart because of what we got through together. Laughing at Kassie Humphrey’s and Nichole Washburn’s hilarious stories! Getting help from the older girls like Kara Pierce, Mel Wallach, Dani May and Sandy Smith as an underclassman. Getting to watch Serena Settlemier blast 22 homeruns in a single season. The toughest team practices or conditioning drills when we’d all come together to get each other through it. Knowing you can count on the person next to you on and off the field. Traveling the country together and dealing with the ups and downs of being a student-athlete. Those are the things that will stick in my mind forever.”

Talk about what it’s like being in the top-10 of three KU career softball lists…

“It’s an honor being in the record books with KU greats like Rose Rader, Christi Musser and Sarah Holland. Records are meant to be broken though. They are important for current and future players to look at and get motivated to beat. If my name does that for one girl, I’d be really excited.”

Do you still keep in touch with your Jayhawk teammates?

“I do, but not as much as I would like to. The worst part about graduating is that everyone usually goes their separate ways. The ones that live in and around the Kansas City area I definitely keep in touch with better because I’m able to see them. Even though I don’t talk or see those girls every day, they will always be a part of my family and we all know we can call on each other if need be.”

What was it like being a player on the Russian National team?

“It was an experience I’ll never forget. Traveling halfway around the world to a foreign country makes you grow up really fast. I had never been out of the United States when I went the first time and had to travel alone. It was scary, but exciting at the same time. The hardest part was adjusting to the language barrier. Most of my teammates and the coaching staff didn’t speak any English. I had an interpreter, but she wasn’t with me most of the time. I got really good at using body language to make conversation and I learned enough Russian to get me by.

The European game is faster because they use the short game a lot more. The pitching took some time to adjust to because it was much slower. I was able to play teams from Holland, Australia, Spain, Germany and Italy. It was exciting to see how popular softball was in Europe, being a sport started in America.

My time in Russia gave me new perspectives. I realized how much I take advantage of being from the United States. I realized what amazing people the Russians are, hospitable and proud of where they come from. Once you get to know them and become a part of their family, they take care of you like one of their own. I still keep in touch with a few of the girls and hope to go back one day to visit.”

Talk about your career at Kansas and what it means to be a Jayhawk…

“My time at Kansas was truly the best time of my life thus far. I’m forever grateful to KU and the athletic department for giving me the opportunity to play softball and get a top-notch education. Not only that, but all of the opportunities I’ve had since then – getting to play professionally in Russia, landing the job I have now. In fact, Lew Perkins and Paul Buskirk are the reason I’m at Parris Communications. They recommended me to the firm. Paul gave me valuable advice and counsel during a time when I had to make some grown-up decisions. I learned firsthand how important the student-athletes were to Lew. He went above and beyond to get me connected to the right people and I will never forget that.

That’s what being a Jayhawk is all about – family. Taking care of your own. It’s also about pride and tradition. I will boast about or defend my Jayhawks to anyone who wants to challenge their worth in any of the sports!”

What is the thing you miss the most about KU or Lawrence?

“I miss the people the most. I have special relationships with people all over the athletic department. Whenever I get the chance to go back, I make it a point to see all of them. Kansas Athletics is a special place. That’s a testament to Lew’s legacy.

I miss my playing days and the girls I suited up with. I would do anything to go back and play one more game, have one more at bat or one more road trip.

I miss Lawrence’s culture. The liberal viewpoints, music scene, arts and downtown are like no other city in the state of Kansas. It’s a gem, and I love going back there.”