OU softball: Sooner ace Giselle Juarez has two signature moves — winning games, wearing goggles
NORMAN — One day earlier this spring, Shannon Saile noticed something interesting about newbie teammate Giselle Juarez — she stored her eyewear in her locker.
“Do you always leave your goggles here?” Saile asked.
“Yes,” Juarez replied. “If I forgot them, I don’t know what I would do.”
That’s not hyperbole. Without her goggles, Juarez wouldn’t be able to see home plate — and when the Oklahoma lefty can see her target, there's evidence she is almost unbeatable.
As the Sooners prepare for their Women’s College World Series opener Thursday night, no player is more important to their title hopes than Juarez. The winter transfer from Arizona State has become OU’s ace, and even though the Sooners have more pitching depth than ever, Juarez is the go-to.
She has become the be-goggled face of the program.
Truth is, her spectacles have become almost as much of a spectacle as her pitching is.
So, why did G go goggles?
Juarez started playing softball back home in Arizona when she was young, and for years, she wore her everyday glasses during games. She just added an elastic strap to keep them from falling off.
But then her mom, Dulcinea, had a realization when she saw a player get hit in the face during a college game.
“If your glasses break,” Dulcinea told her daughter, “there’s gonna be glass in your eye.”
They started looking for alternatives. As a freshman in high school, Juarez tried wearing contacts but didn’t feel comfortable in them. Going without corrective lens for her nearsightedness was not an option either.
“I tried pitching without them once,” she said, “and my depth perception was so off, I was like, ‘Oh, no, this can’t happen.’”
By the middle of her freshman year at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Juarez decided to try sports goggles. She found an impact-resistance style made by Rec Specs that she liked. The frame was attached directly to an elastic strap, and the lenses could be made to match her prescription. They came in a variety of colors, too.
She went with gold.
That was perfect when she played for the maroon and gold at Arizona State, though she tested some Adidas goggles when she was in Tempe. The Sun Devils are an Adidas school, but none of the apparel company’s goggles had a strap directly attached to the frame.
Juarez stuck with Rec Specs.
Then last summer, her mom suggested they get a second pair in red. Juarez plays for the Puerto Rican national team, and Dulcinea thought red goggles would be great.
“Then it worked out that I transferred,” Juarez said of her move to OU, “and I was like, ‘Red!’”
Now, those goggles have become part of her persona. Her aura, even.
Imagine if she showed up Thursday night for OU’s game against Alabama and wasn’t wearing her goggles. It’d be like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Eric Dickerson or Chris Sabo without their goggles. Tiger Woods without his Sunday red. Joe Washington without his silver shoes. Rip Hamilton without his plastic face mask. James Harden without his beard. Andre Agassi without his headband. Tom Landry without his fedora. Bear Bryant without his hounds-tooth hat. Bob Stoops without his visor. Mike Gundy without his mullet.
Wonder Woman wouldn’t go into a fight without her metal wrist cuffs, and Giselle Juarez won’t go into a game without her goggles.
“It’s kind of become my thing now,” she said.
Wearing goggles and winning ballgames — those have become signature moves for Juarez, and frankly, it’s hard to think of her doing one without the other.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.
WOMEN'S COLLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Oklahoma vs. Alabama
When: 8:30 p.m., Thursday
Where: USA Hall of Fame Stadium
TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28)