Results tagged ‘ Springfield College ’
“Don’t underestimate the people. Let them decide.”
-Thaksin Shinawatra, Politician
During the bus rides to our away games, I would listen to Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.” I was the only female assistant college baseball coach in the country – but that didn’t matter so much to me. What mattered to me was being a good coach; to help these young men become better baseball players and better people.
I was 16 when I told my hero/baseball coach that I wanted to be a college baseball coach. Immediately he laughed, and promised that no man would listen to a woman on a baseball field. Despite the lump in my throat, I ignored him, and decided I would still go after my dream. The truth is I didn’t really believe him.
It was my third year coaching at Springfield College, when a Varsity player came up to me to ask for some fielding advice. He needed help. He didn’t go to the Head Coach or even to the other two assistants, who all had some pro experience; he came to me. He asked. And I helped. Just like any coach would.
My 12u girls’ all star team, the Sparks, play annually at Cooperstown Dreams Park. Imagine 103 boys’ teams and our 13 girls. During one of our games, when Chelsea Baker, the knuckle ball pitcher, who has thrown two perfect games, was
pitching, we had over 700 fans watching the game. The fans, composed of mainly twelve year old boys who were also tournament participants, could be heard chanting in succession: “Baseball-For-All!” The boys were cheering for the girls – their fellow baseball players.
I like to joke that every time a girl strikes out a boy, she just made him a better father. Boys and girls, women and men, can enjoy the game of baseball together. I know being a female limits some of my understandings of what it is to become a man. But I do know something of what it takes to become a good father, a loving husband, and a happy person. And to me, that’s the job of a good baseball coach – to teach how we can become better – on and off the field. Man or Woman.
“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.”
– Marge Piercy, American novelist
The other night, I was brushing my teeth, when the mirror finally caught my attention. For the first time in a long while, I saw my shoulders. And I saw that I was strong.
My strength and conditioning trainer, Michael Zolkiewicz, reminds me often, “To pull my shoulders back and walk like an athlete.” Through my years in boys’ baseball, I learned that acceptance often comes at the price of feigning invisibility. This included downplaying achievements, rarely talking, and never showing that I may be stronger than them. In short, eyes to the floor and shoulders in.
As I was sharing some of my angst over the limelight of Spring Training with Springfield College’s Head Baseball Coach Mark Simeone, he tried to comfort me, “But you are used to being different and being stared at.” And I replied, perhaps too quickly, “But I’m much more comfortable staying at home.”
And then with a breath of confession, murmured, “I just don’t live my life that
I am in the gym 6 days a week strengthening my arm and overcoming a pitching injury that once left me unable to wash my own hair. Between the medicine ball
training, the never-ending variety of planks, and the exhausting plyometrics, my
arm has become strong, durable, and pain free. Today, when I was throwing BP to the Springfield College team, a varsity player looked at me after his 6-hit
rotation and offered, ” You K’d me like three times.”
I think it’s time for me to redefine what acceptance is. Invisibility is no longer an option. And while I’m being noticed, I will pull my shoulders back, walk like an athlete, and know that I am strong.