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A Sparks in the outfield

As the daughter of a professional athlete, Jordin Sparks was almost obligated to play sports, regardless of what other pursuits spurred her interest. But the Grammy-nominated singer wasn't burdened by the expectation, and in fact, cherished her time on the field.

"My dad played, of course," Sparks says, "so I was always into sports when I was a kid."

The singer's father is Phillippi Sparks, who played in the NFL for nine years, eight of them with the New York Giants. But while her dad tore up the football field, Sparks preferred the diamond.

"I loved to play softball," she says.

Attending baseball games as a kid helped foster her passion for the sport.

"My grandpa would always take me, wear the same baseball hat and teach me how to keep score," says Sparks. "My favorite part of going to a game is the time you get to spend with your family."

Although her family played a big role in her love of sports, Sparks, who was born in Arizona, didn't let her father's New York ties influence her MLB allegiance.

"I grew up a D-backs fan," she says. "I was 10 years old during [the 2001] World Series. It was so exciting. We beat those Yanks -- that was incredible."

While Sparks' ultimate calling was to be on stage -- she was the season six winner of "American Idol" -- she jumps at any chance to get back on the field. During 2015 All-Star Game Week, Sparks was invited to play in the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.

"I love playing sports, and I always say yes when I'm invited to stuff like [that]," Sparks says. "I can't play on any real teams because of what I do, with the traveling and schedule, so I love getting the chance to play."

And when she does have the opportunity to take the field, one position, in particular, beckons. There, too, is a family connection: "I always had a good arm like my dad, so I play outfield."

Andrew Sheldon is a contributor to