She's been a staple in the Minooka softball lineup for the better part of four years now. Over the next two months, her stint with the Indians will be coming to a close and she will be headed off to the University of Wisconsin to continue her career.
A complete player as a batter — she batted .453 last year — and as a pitcher (14-4 record), Novak has all the tools any team would want playing between the lines for them.
On Friday before her team took to the practice field, Novak agreed to engage the MDH in this week's question and answer sessions and here is the way it went.
Q. Let's start with once upon a time. When did you first start playing the game of softball?
A. I started playing softball when I was really young, probably about 4 or 5 going all the way back to tee ball.
Q. Who were your biggest influences to play the game?
A. My parents were really my biggest influence to get into softball because they were always encouraging me to stick with it.
Q. Did you play other sports growing up? If so, which ones?
A. I played volleyball throughout junior high and my freshman year of high school, but softball was always my first focus.
Q. What are your first memories of playing competitively?
A. I remember playing years of in house, but things really got more competitive when I started playing actual travel ball in 2009. It's amazing to see how much more competitive the sport becomes as you get older.
Q. Have you always been a pitcher? How have you evolved over the years as a pitcher and when did your assortment of pitches come to be what it is now?
A. My pitching days began when I was really little and almost everyone pitched at some point. I continued to stick with it because I always threw harder than most girls my age, but as I got older I took lessons to develop more movement and off speed to combat the increasingly talented hitters I would be facing.
Q. Can you walk me through your decision to go to Wisconsin and pitch there?
A. As far as Wisconsin goes, I was recruited more as a positional player that will only pitch if the team really needs someone in the circle. I chose the school because it has great academics, an amazing college town atmosphere, and an amazing coaching staff and team. I couldn't see myself playing anywhere else.
A.Let's talk about the Indians. How do you feel about where the team is at this point?
Q. We started off the season well and had a recent rough patch, but our last couple games have been much more encouraging and I think a small slump has really brought us closer together as a team. We have the talent and focus to, in my opinion, do well in conference and the postseason.
Q. Finally, if you had a piece of advice to give a young girl coming up who wanted to play Division I softball someday, what would your advice be?
A. Stick with it and work HARD. Most girls don't realize that to reach the top levels, it takes constant practice and saying it takes daily practice would not be an exaggeration. It's a lot of work and requires a lot of sacrifice, but if college softball is really the dream it will definitely pay off.