If someone had told me when I was 16 wearing the #9 on my back and playing 2nd base that 12 years later I would be coaching girls softball in Kenya from scratch I would’ve asked where that crazy idea came from. I am working with a great group of girls in Namboboto. I started teaching softball last October and since then we have had 3 months of holiday breaks. I have the girls for 3 hours a week. So roughly we have been playing now for 90 hours. The point at where we started is unrecognizable to where their skills are now. But it is not their understanding of the game that is the success of this story.
I have watched the girls gain confidence and come out of their shells. The field was heavy with insecurity when we began. Many girls sat on the sidelines watching and were too scared to put a glove on their hand or pick up the bat. We have new members joining each month. They have learned to be comfortable with one another and I have gained their trust. Through this sport they now come to me with problems and issues they are facing in their lives. Ten months ago it was hard to get a smile and laughter was not heard. The field is a different place now with laughter, girls calling out plays, and encouragement for fellow teammates.
The progress that has been made in such a short time is phenomenal. I have 11 more months with these girls (but with breaks really only 8). They will be pros by the time I say my goodbyes (and that comment reflects them and not my coaching skills.). I am incredibly proud of them. Who knew that with a simple game of hitting, throwing, and catching a ball a group of girls could gain such a sense of empowerment. (Of course this was my hope.) It has been my privilege and joy to get to watch and be a part. I look forward to looking back a year from now and being just as amazed at their growth as stand out community members and fantastic softball players.
And now for the bloopers reel. I wish I had these on film. Over the course of our practices all these things have happened…
- Of course the infamous how do I put this glove on? Ok coach, I’m ready. Umm, you only need one glove go ahead and take that second one off. Also, your glove is on backwards.
- Ah when you are up to bat you don’t need your glove as well, just the bat will do.
- My first base woman ran to second after the opposing team member hit the ball. First base where you going, yo?
- My pitcher loves to windmill about 7 times before she pitches the ball. So you are standing at home plate thinking is she gonna throw the ball? Is it coming now? Now? How about now? Ah man there was the pitch.
- One of my players ran right into the second base woman. She leveled her. Let’s leave American football out of this one girls.
- I have a girl who still insists on hitting like she is golfing. She keeps the bat down to the ground then brings it up at the pitch. She hits it though so I guess I’ll quit trying to tweak her style.
A couple months ago some nearby PCV’s came out to play with the team. We had a great time and the girls absolutely LOVED it!
I know a bunch of youth back home who play that I wish I could put on a plane and have them help me. Up until now I’ve basically been coaching a peewee league but they are 17! It’s been interesting/hilarious/entertaining to teach a sport that your players have never seen.
Oh I get this a lot too…If it is called softball, why isn’t the ball soft?
We still have much progress to make. They still struggle with first tagging their base, for the force out, before throwing the ball to another base. But we are working on how to make double and dare I say triple plays happen.
A couple months ago they received mosquito nets from Calvary and FFUMC in Franklin, KY. After a show of hands all but 1 of the girls have had malaria at some point. A lot of people are working to change that.
Speaking of nets and malaria. I have been asked by PC to be a Stomp Out Malaria volunteer for my province in Kenya. I’m crazy excited and honored to partner with others and work further towards eradicating malaria. Oh and the training is in SENEGAL! Don’t mind if I do.