The Dolphin Dozen series of interviews conducted by "Voice of the Dolphins" Scott Manze continues with softball junior Makenzie Buss. She is in her third year in the program. You can listen to the interview or read the transcript below.
- Do you have superstitions? I feel like you have to, you play softball.
I mean as far as the softball side of things go, the only superstition I really have is the way I get in the box. I do the same thing every single time, since I was 12 years old. Other than that, I pray twice before every game, once with my team and once by myself. Nothing too crazy like other people.
What's your routine getting into the box?
First, I flatten it out, then I dig out the hole where my back foot goes and then its's outside of the plate, inside of the plate, then you swing your bat at the pitcher, then get in your stance.
I love the aspect of, everyone has something different they do in the game of baseball or softball that make you unique.
- What is your greatest athletic achievement so far?
Ooh. I think making All-Freshman Team was probably the greatest thing I've done, just because coming in as a freshman, where I come from is not a very big softball town, so coming in and making a name for myself at such a young point, at such a big, Division I school is kind of cool, kind of something I'm proud of.
That's something to kind of affirm what you'd worked on, right?
Something that is like, 'Oh you're not from a place that breeds a lot of softball players, but you're kind of good. Okay cool.'
- When did you start playing softball?
I didn't really pay softball until I was…13? I grew up playing baseball actually. We only had one softball complex and I didn't even know it existed until I was too old to play baseball because they wouldn't let girls play baseball after they were 12. Don't know why, but…I grew up playing baseball and finally they were like, 'um, actually, you should probably play softball because you are a girl', and I was like 'okay'.
What position did you play in baseball?
I was a shortstop too, so it wasn't that much of a change, just a bigger ball I guess.
- If you weren't playing softball, what sport would you play?
I don't know. In soccer I played soccer and volleyball, but I think I would do volleyball. I think that's my other calling, my second nature calling.
Yeah! That's what I did in high school.
You strike me as an outside hitter. Maybe it's the hitting, maybe it's the height, I don't know, something along those lines.
- Do you have a go-to song on your that is getting you in the mood, getting you hyped up?
"Brass Monkey" by Beastie Boys is my walkup this year and I'm really excited about it. The horns at the beginning…I've always done old school songs for my walkup, since they're songs that hype my up for some reason, I don't why. Beastie Boys kind of hit me this year.
Last two years what were your walkup songs?
My freshman year it was "Magic Stick" [by Lil Kim] and then last year was "The Next Episode" by Dr. Dre, so I always do some throwbacks in there, that's my thing I guess.
I like it. A lot of the stuff that gets picked these days, I don't even know what it is, and call me an old soul I guess, but I prefer some of the old school stuff.
- What drew you to come to JU?
Really, I kind of got lucky. My high school coach knew the old assistant coach here, and they kind of talked, but really randomly I was at a tournament and my high school happned to be there and they were talking and as my high school coach was watching me play with my travel team, that [JU] coach happened to come up and talk to her and she was like 'oh, who's that kid' and she was like 'oh, she actually goes to my high school! I coach her'. Then they stayed and watched me play and then sent me two hours away to another tournament so the head coach could watch me play and then I came on a visit, fell in love with campus, and then I was like 'let's do it!'.
- What are you majoring in?
I am a sports business major.
What is the goal for that?
Well I'm graduating this year, so I'm coming back next year to get my master's with a focus in analytics. I want to run some sort of statistics for an athletic organization. I don't know, hopefully professional. I want to be involved in sports and the statistics and analytical side of things.
What do you look at right now? Like, the 538, or do you just look at different numbers websites to get kind of a feel for it?
I'm doing an internship with the Jumbo Shrimp [Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins] this summer so I've had the opportunity to just kind of talk to the guys that run it and the different programs that they use. You know the MLB At-Bat app that is popular? Basically, what I'm doing this summer is running that, but the minor league version. It's like live stats, stuff like that. It's super simple, but to me, I think stats tell…it's like a book for the game. If you know a team's stats, you know what they're going to do. I think it's a super important side of the game that sometimes gets overlooked.
Especially in the game that you play. Tells a lot of the story. That'll be fun, curious to see how you advance in that.
- You mention your hometown, not a big softball town. Where exactly are you from?
I'm from Cape Coral, Florida, super south. It's right next to Fort Myers, a lot of people know where Fort Myers is, not Cape Coral.
That is a long drive, just did that one last weekend in fact.
Five hours, yeah, it's not an easy one.
What is the defining characteristic of Cape Coral, Florida?
Retirement home [laughter]. We're 20 minutes from the beach, so a lot of people come to retire. There's not a lot of…there's a lot of people my age, but it's not really a party city, not a lot going on.
So how do you end up there when you're not retiring?
I guess…my grandma actually, after she retired, moved here with my mom, and then my mom just kind of stayed, had me, my whole family is there, so I guess it is just kind of one of those places where you just never leave.
- You where number seven, correct?
Why number seven?
Growing up, my family is big Yankee fans, and we had, you know those thick binders that have all the different slots in it for the trading cards?
Oh yeah, got a few of them myself.
We had one black and white one, and it was Mickey Mantle, and he was number seven, and for whatever reason I loved that playing card, I loved the old school side of it I guess. When I started playing tee ball, the coach asked me what number I wanted to be and I said 'I want to be Mickey Mantle! I want to be Mickey Mantle!' and he was like 'I don't know what that means' and I was like 'Number seven! Number seven!' and I've kept it ever since.
Have you ever seen the Seinfeld episode where George wants to name his kid "Seven" because of Mickey Mantle?
No, I haven't!
You've got to go watch that one now, because he was like 'I want something unique' so he's going to call his kid "Seven" and his fiancé is like 'We're not naming our kid "Seven"'.
[Laughs] That's funny. That's like "Eleven" from…what is that show on Netflix? With the little kids?
I don't know, I think there are a lot. [laughs]
No! The one, where they go into the dark side. The kid doesn't have front teeth.
I don't know, I haven't watched it.
Oh my gosh! It's huge. It's going to hit. Then, I'm randomly going to say a TV show and you'll know what I'm talking about.
[Laughs] Alright, that's fun. We've got a few more questions for you to come up with that one, so hopefully there is enough time.
- Do you have a favorite road trip memory from your time at JU?
My freshman year, we were really big into Vine. It was already gone by then, but just "Vine referencing things". My head coach at the time had no idea any of the things we'd ever say, so we'd randomly just throw Vine references at her and she'd be like 'What are you talking about?' We had just won, had just beat Maryland…oh this was last year! We had just beat Maryland, we were on the way home and we were just screaming Vine across the bus, from the front of the bus to the back of the bus and my coach stands up and [yells] 'What are you talking about!' We spent the last three hour of the bus ride home watching Vine references over and over and over again and it was hilarious.
Vine. RIP, right?
I know, RIP.
There is a whole generation of people who will never understand…
They have TikTok now. That's not the same thing. That's terrible.
I don't even know what that is.
Exactly! Exactly, you don't need to, it's terrible.
- What is your go-to pregame meal or snack?
This is embarrassing. I really like Slim Jims.
I always eat a Slim Jim, which I guess is actually kind of a superstition now that I think about it, but, I don't know. I always have Slim Jims in my locker.
I can't tell you the last time I had a Slim Jim.
I get from BJ's the big box, you get like 500 of them. They last me a while.
Now are they the really long ones or…
Noooo. They're the regular ones. Like six inches. I'm not that dramatic.
Okay, not the gas station ones. [laughs]
Slim Jims, wow. That is a first, and I imagine will be a last on this Dolphin Dozen.
- We've come to the final question, this is a two-parter. The first part comes from Julianne Hutchison of women's soccer. She wants to know if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you pick?
That's an easy one. I would love to have dinner with Derek Jeter. I said I was a big Yankee fan, he's the reason I played, he's the reason I wanted to be a shortstop. I want to embody his character, his leadership, his everything. It is really what I strive to do.
Jeter, now managing the Marlins, and…I don't know, they're kind of turning things around.
People gave him a hard time for selling everyone, but I think he knows what he is doing. He knows the game well, I think he'll be fine.
Building it in kind of the Yankee way. Alright, now it's time for you to come up with a question for the next interview subject.
Originally, I was going to ask if you could play any other sport what would it be, but you kind of took that one from me.
So, I'm going to say, if you could have a one-on-one game with any athlete, who would it be?
So one-on-one in any sport? Or just basketball?
Any sport. If it's softball, you'd want them to pitch to you, if it's soccer, you'd want to be in goal when they kick it at you, if it's basketball, one-on-one game. Any one-on-one competition.
Okay, I like that one. Did you think of the TV show by the way?
[sighs] No. I can't…It's really good, I watched it, there are three seasons!
Is it animated?
Wait, wait, is it Stranger Things?
Yes! That's what it is, see I knew you would know it, I just couldn't think of it. I wanted to say Imagine Dragons for some reason, but I knew that's a band.
[Laughs] I'm embarrassed to say I haven't seen any of Stranger Things yet, everybody tells me I would like it, but I need to watch it. It's on the list.
It's good, it's good. I would highly recommend it. It's a little creepy, but also funny. It's got both sides of the spectrum.
I like that. I like shows that can play multiple ways. I'm glad…I would have felt uncomfortable ending the interview if we hadn't come up with that.
I know, I kept saying Imagine Dragons in my head, and I was like 'No! Makenzie, that's not it. What is it?' But, yeah, it is Stranger Things.