Feb. 16, 2012
Serena Settlemier (Softball) 2002-06
The Washington state native quickly carved out a niche for herself in Kansas upon her arrival to Lawrence in 2002, leading her team in innings pitched and being named to the All-Big 12 second team as an at-large selection. By the time Settlemier would leave KU, she would be considered one of the best Jayhawk hurlers to toe the rubber at Arrocha Ballpark. Settlemier continued her diamond success, going on to pitch professionally in the National Pro Fastpitch League as well as playing internationally in Italy and for the nation of Greece. She currently can be found in sunny Southern California, where she works as an associate producer for the reality TV show, "The Real Housewives of Orange County". She is also working on her certification to become a personal trainer, after having worked on the set of "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition".
What made you choose to play softball at Kansas?
"When I was getting recruited, I either wanted to play in the Pac-10 or the Big 12 because those were the two best conferences for softball. I really wanted to go to Oregon State because I wanted my parents to be able to watch me play all the time. Oregon State wasn't going to let me be a hitter and a lot of the Universities that I went on visits to didn't let the pitchers hit, so that was a huge factor for me. I wanted to be a hitter and a pitcher, so when I visited KU they said that I could be a pitcher/hitter. Kansas had sent me more letters since I was in the seventh grade than any other university. They highly recruited me and the loyalty there was a factor. It was the tradition, the environment, I loved Lawrence--it wasn't what I expected when I thought of Kansas. When I went back to Washington, every single person would ask, `Why would you pick Kansas?' You can't really explain it unless you've been to Kansas."
What do you remember about leading Kansas to its first Big 12 Championship during the 2006 season?
"We were the sixth or seventh heading into the Big 12 Championship, so no one was looking at Kansas to be the team to win it. It was such an unbelievable experience. We didn't think about that (being a lower seed), we just went and played. Everything just happened to come together and it was an unbelievable experience that no one expected. The fact that we beat Oklahoma in the championship game, when we had only beaten them once, maybe twice, in the five years that I was at KU, was so exciting. They had just beaten us pretty good in conference play, so it was an unbelievable experience."
You played softball professionally and internationally after you graduated from KU; talk a little bit about those experiences.
"When I graduated in 2006, I was drafted in the fourth round by the Texas Thunder (of the National Pro Fastpitch League), so I went and played in Texas. I went back to playing for the Thunder in 2007, but the team was sold to Rockford, Ill., so we became the Rockford Thunder. I played for them in 07 and 08, but then in 2008 I decided to play in the Italian professional league in Macerata, Italy. I only played half of the season there because my season in Rockford was going to start so I played for three or four months in Macerata. When I played professionally, I learned from two gold medal winning Olympians in Christa Williams and Amanda Freed, who are now two of my closest friends. The pro league was a little different because everyone had a respect for each other's success and we let our guard down, and were able to learn from one another. It was an all-around great experience to play at such a high level. One of my greatest accomplishments in the pro league is when I made the All Star Team in 2007.
"I also went and played for the Greek team in the European Cup and we ended up winning the whole thing! I took one of my catchers from the Rockford Thunder with me and we had a blast, it was just such an unbelievable experience. I actually played for the Greek team two different times in 2007 and 2008."
While playing professionally, what did you do during the off season?
"The whole time I was playing professionally, I was coaching and staying in shape by working out with the girls. I got my first job, at Fordham University as the pitching and hitting coach, where I was from 2006 to 2008. I was hitting and pitching and throwing live batting practice and that's what helped me stay in shape. If I had taken another job, like a desk job, I would not have been able to stay in shape and still play at the professional level."
What have you been doing since you graduated from KU?
After I finished playing in 2008, I went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and earned my broadcasting degree there. Then I moved to California to work in the entertainment industry and I decided it was the right time to stop playing softball and focus on a career. I got my first job working on the Real Housewives of Orange County. Since then I have worked on a ton of TV shows and now am an associate producer on the same show I started on, The Real Housewives of Orange County."
What does an associate producer do on the show?
"It's another name for segment producer, so I call and clear up any locations that we film at. I work with the talent producer so if she says, `Hey, the housewives want to go shopping,' then I look up cute boutiques in the area and contact the business and set it up. I also creatively plan all of the housewives' events and parties with them, as well as building and maintaining relationships with business owners. Sometimes I pull permits and work out trade-out agreements to film at locations. I am basically in charge of the location, so I would go on set and maintain people that come in and out of the shot that aren't our talent. When they (the housewives) throw a party I hire the catering, the bartender and stuff like that, unless the housewives want to do it on their own. "
What is your career goal?
"My ultimate goal was to be an on-camera TV broadcaster, but the more I got into the industry and worked on all these different shows, I really found a love for working with the talent. Ultimately, segment producing and being a talent producer is kind of the direction I am heading. I had an epiphany when I was the casting coordinator on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. I got to be a part of these people's lives that lost excessive amounts of weight over a 12 month period. That kind of brought me back to my athletic background and now I am getting certified in personal training on the side."
Have you been back to Lawrence and KU since you graduated?
"I have been back one time since I graduated and that was after I finished my 2006 pro season in Texas. I was making my road trip to New York City to start my new job and I drove back through and stayed the weekend. There are three of the softball girls out here with me (in California) and we always talk about going, but I just get super busy. I want to come back for alumni weekend."
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