Athlete Spotlight: James Wood softball player Jenna Burkhamer

6062856e0f2d5.imageJames Wood High School 17-year-old senior

Sport: Softball. Positions: Pitcher and outfielder.

Parents: Sarah and Brad Burkhamer

Hometown: Salem (moved to Winchester 10 years ago)

What do you love about softball: I like the people. There’s so many people that you get to know. A lot of people are friendly. A lot of my friends are from softball. It’s definitely a fun experience to get to know everybody. I also like how you’re always learning in softball. There’s always something that you’ve got to learn, and it’s going to make you a lot better.

Most memorable moment in softball: My first year in parks & rec ball, it was my first year playing softball. I was in center field, there were two outs, and the ball was hit right to me. It bobbled in my glove, then fell out of my glove, and I caught it with my other hand. It was almost like a ray of sunshine was just shining down on me that day. I can probably say that was the best day of my life. Everybody was cheering for me. I was 13 years old.

Most embarrassing moment in softball: This happened recently in a tournament with Shenandoah Shock. A line drive was hit right to me, and it tipped it right out of my glove and it fell right behind me. There were two outs, so it would have been the last out. I was playing left field.

Most difficult moment in softball: When I first started pitching, it was my first travel season with ShenVal Swarm. I was pretty much the only pitcher without a sore or hurt arm. It was the last game of the tournament. I definitely walked a lot of girls. It was a long day. I rarely pitched strikes. It was definitely hard for me, but it really pushed me to want to be a better pitcher after that, because I didn’t want to suffer like that again. I was about 15 when that happened.

Three people you can have dinner with, dead or alive: My great-grandma Helen; she was definitely a strong woman. I would really like to get to know her because I was young when she passed. I just want to know her memories. Johnny Depp; he’s one of my favorite actors, and he plays the character of Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean” really well. I just want to know what his experiences were, and to talk with him over dinner. That would be pretty cool. And my boyfriend, Tyler Darr; he’s definitely never failed to make me smile every single day, and he definitely makes me a happier person in general. He deserves a nice dinner.

Biggest athletic influence: My pitching coach, Ritchie Jacobs. He works out of Ashburn. He’s a really good coach. He knows softball front to back. He’s been around softball for years, and when he coaches he’s very straightforward and to the point. He doesn’t really mess around when it comes to softball, because he wants every girl to do good and be successful. He’s helped throughout my years with pitching and being better as a person. He helps me be a better communicator and be better with myself, for sure.

 Who is your favorite teacher: Mrs. [Caitlin] Gilmore. She’s a science teacher at Frederick County Middle School. I had her in eighth grade. She is probably the best teacher I’ve had. She was so energetic. She made everything interesting. She made people laugh every day and just made so many memories.

Favorite athlete: Carley Hoover (professional softball player in Japan)

Favorite sports team: West Virginia University athletics

Favorite movie: “The Princess and the Frog”

Favorite TV show: “iCarly” right now

Favorite song: “Steal My Girl” by One Direction

Favorite food: Cajun chicken pasta

Worst thing you’ve eaten: Butter popcorn jelly beans. Those are nasty.

Plans after high school: I’m going to Potomac State College to play softball for two years. I’ll be graduating from there with an associate’s degree in pre-forensic investigative science. I’m planning on transferring to WVU to continue as a forensic examiner major. I watched a lot of criminal justice shows, the crime scenes. It’s just thrilling to me. Problem-solving is really fun to me. I think I would really enjoy it.

— Compiled by Robert Niedzwiecki

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