Tampa, Fla.— To Mia Fung family is everything.
The emphasis placed on family is so important to Fung that she chose to play university softball in her hometown of Tampa Bay.
Fung decided to compete with the University of South Florida Bulls by opting for the Division 1 school over offers from other institutions such as Louisiana State and Florida State University.
“I chose it (USF) to stay close to home, I wanted to represent Tampa, this is my hometown and it would be awesome to go to school here,” said Fung while sitting in the university’s athletic centre. “When I was little it was one of my favourite colleges because its right down the street.”
The proximity of school to home has also enabled both her immediate and extended family the opportunity to see her play. Both sets of grandparents live in Tampa and attend a game every chance they get while her parents never miss one.
The 19-year-old outfielder also had a terminally ill aunt whose wish was to be able to see her niece play. Though she unfortunately lost her battle to cancer this past summer before the freshman’s university career began, Fung’s aunt remains in her heart.
“I also stayed close for her,” said Fung. “I was really close to her.”
Fung’s parents have always had their daughter’s best interest at heart, instilling a great work ethic both on and off the diamond. She was expected to have a certain grade point average, not being allowed to come home with C’s or less.
They did this to not only promote good grades, but because her father Ryan lost a full-ride football scholarship to Florida University due to poor grades, a scenario he did not want for his daughter.
“He wanted me to have good grades so I could get into whatever school I wanted,” said Fung
Fung said though her father doesn’t come to her games holding a hand-made sign, he is definitely loud enough to hear.
As light-hearted as he can be in the stands, the advice he offers her is invaluable.
“I talk to my dad before every game, before every practice and after,” said Fung. “He gives me lots of advice because he knows me, he knows how I play.
“He really just tells me stuff to stay focused and even, say, the pitcher throws 70 mile per hour, he says ‘don’t let her get the best of you, you can hit that.’ He knows I know that I can hit that, it’s a confidence boost thing.”
All of her parent’s support and Fung’s hard work ethic has paid off. Even Ken Eriksen, the coach of the team has taken notice of how good his crop of freshmen players are this year, making mention of it in a scrum earlier in the day.
Fung has six hits, one homerun and four RBI’s since the beginning of the season and has started in nine games for the USF bulls.
“If you take a look at the statistics in the freshmen class, the productivity of the class is tremendous,” said Eriksen.
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