COMING DOWN THE HOME STRETCH
07/19/2017 10:22 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
It’s hard to believe, but we are now getting into the latter stages of the 2017 Akron Racers season. After starting here at the beginning of the calendar year, it has been quite a fun ride working with the Racers… but it’s not over yet.
After being here for an entire semester during the offseason, being at the stadium and with the team in the midst of the peak of the summer’s action has been incredible. Prepping for the draft and preparing for the season was fun (I wish I could do this year-round), but there’s nothing quite like being here on game day.
The atmosphere is electric. The fans are always super excited to see their Racers, and the players are eager to put on a show. And what a show they have put on thus far. Our Racers have certainly entertained their home crowd, going 9-6 here at Firestone during their first long home stand (interrupted only by two quick games in Chicago). Everyone loves the long ball, and Akron has certainly given the people what they want, leading the NPF with 36 dingers heading into their series in Texas against the Charge.
All of our players have been amazing, as I outlined in my previous blog post. Every single member of this team has contributed, and many of our Racers are starting to be recognized for their efforts. Pitcher Megan Betsa was the first Racer to crack the NPF weekly awards sheet, winning Rookie of the Week for the week of June 19-25. First baseman Nicole Schroeder snagged the honor herself the following week, and pitcher Jailyn Ford was named Pitcher of the Week, giving Akron two of the three weekly honorees. Rookie of the Week, Pitcher of the Week… what else is there to win? Oh yeah, Player of the Week. And the Racers have taken that trophy each of the past two weeks. Outfielder Shellie Robinson won for July 3-9, and Second baseman Ashley Thomas was named Player of the Week for her outstanding performance this past week.
All of our incredible players will look to finish off the season strong, and continue to excel in front of their home fans. After the Racers finish up this final road trip in Texas, they will return to Akron to play 16 games at Firestone Stadium. That’s SIXTEEN more chances to come out and watch these incredible athletes perform.
The Racers return home to take on the USSSA Pride on July 25 at 7:05 p.m. The teams will face off four times in three days, after a rain out earlier this season. After the Pride series, Akron will play host to the Canadian National Softball Team. There will be three exhibition games between the two sides, one on July 31, and two five-inning matchups on August 1. Which team will Canada native Sara Groenewegen suit up for? Come and see for yourself!
The Racers will play the entire month of August at home. Akron will be the home team against the Beijing Eagles for a three game series August 3-5. Again due to a previous cancellation, the Racers will play four games in three days, taking on the Scrap Yard Dawgs here at home. Akron will host the Texas Charge for two more final games at home to round out the regular season, and the next destination will hopefully be Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If the Racers can secure a top four spot in the NPF regular season standings, they will head to Tiger Park for the 2017 NPF Championship Series, in hopes of bringing the Cowles Cup to Akron for the first time since 2005.
The on-the-field action should be more than enough to bring you out to the stadium for a game, but if that alone doesn’t do the trick, we always have tons of promotions and in-game entertainment that will entice an audience and keep them having a blast while they’re here.
July 25 is Christmas in July here at Firestone Stadium. We’ll have Christmas themes all across the ballpark, and Santa himself may even stop by. Half-Price Ticket Night is on July 26. Just as it sounds, any ticket for any seat in any section will be available for purchase at half-price! Following the game, fans will have the opportunity to step into the box and take on an NPF pitcher. Think you have what it takes? Sign up for our “So You Think You Can Hit?” event HERE. No walk-ups will be permitted, so sign up ASAP!
July 31 will be Dollar Dog Night. Come watch us take on Canada and chow down a few dogs for just a few bucks. August 1 will be our Salute to Education. All educators get in absolutely FREE, and their guests will only have to pay $5, as we thank educators for all that they do. We will also be having a back-to-school giveaway that night. Bring the kids, bring a teacher, and cheer on the Racers.
Throughout the month of August, we will have many awesome themes for our nights here at the ballpark. Nights sponsored by Chick-Fil-A, Akron Children’s Hospital, and McDonald’s show some love to our amazing sponsors. We’ll rock the stadium with “Girls & their Guitars” presented by WQMX on August 5 and 80’s Night on August 9. Our second and final “Pink the Park” of the season will take place August 12.
And what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for… bobble head nights! A.J. Andrews Night presented by McDonald’s will be July 27, as we honor our very own golden girl and give away diving A.J. statues. We will also be selling replica gold gloves, just like the Rawlings Gold Glove won by A.J., in our merchandise garage that night. Expect to hear some Backstreet Boys on August 8 as it will be Sami Fagan Night at Firestone Stadium. We honor the franchise’s first NPF Rookie of the Year, and give you the chance to get your very own Sami Fagan bobble head.
Our final day of the season, August 13, will of course be Fan Appreciation Night. A night all about YOU. There will be many, many giveaways, and you can earn even more prizes by taking pictures at the ballpark and participating in our second annual Instagrammy’s.
As you can see, there is no reason for you to not come out to Firestone Stadium this season. The team is playing great, and the Racers game day experience is unlike any other. You’ll regret it if you let the remainder of the season sneak by. Act now! Grab your tickets today, and try to contain your excitement until the team is back in Akron next week. Visit www.akronracers.org for ticket information, or call (330) 376-8188 to lock in your seat! See you all soon at the beautiful “Field of Dreams” at historic Firestone Stadium in the wonderful city of Akron, Ohio.
OH, WE'RE HALFWAY THERE
07/13/2017 9:35 AM - Erin Duncan
With the end of July quickly approaching, it is hard to believe that the NPF season has reached its midway point. From the ups to the downs, the first half of the season has been nothing short of enticing. After last night’s game, the Racers ended their seventh week and hit the road again for a twelve day stretch, the longest since they’ve played at home. With our Akron team away, it is the perfect opportunity to recap their first month and a half of game play.
Ending the first half of the season, the Racers, both individually and as a whole, have placed themselves on multiple leaderboards in the league. As a team, Akron leads the league in homeruns (35), RBI (123), and runs scored (132). To keep the offense on top, Robinson is second in the league for most home runs hit this season with seven, while reigning Rookie of the Year Sami Fagan leads in doubles with eight. Defensively, the Racers have proven strong as well. Catcher Griffin Joiner ranks third in the league with put outs at 147 and third baseman Kelley Montalvo has 44 assists to put her in the top spot on the leaderboard. Akron (15-13) placed third in the league as they wrap up the first month and a half of game play.
The Racers return home on July 25, when they will face the USSSA Pride for the second time at home with a 7:05 PM first pitch. With an excitable first half of the season, there is a lot to look forward to as the summer works its way to an end. Because of not only our team, but also the fans, these last few months have been made extremely memorable. The Racers could not do all that they do without the love and support of the dedicated people of Akron, so let’s keep the season rolling together when they return home! To come out and cheer on the team in their second half, tickets can be ordered by contacting the Racers ticket office at (330) 376- 8188. Go Racers!
RACERS DOMINATE HOME STAND
07/05/2017 9:56 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
As the Akron Racers’ first home stand comes to a close, the team probably can’t wait to return to the new “Field of Dreams” at Firestone Stadium on Friday. The Racers have been magnificent defending their home turf thus far, winning each of their three multi-game series.
Akron kicked things off with a three-game sweep of the new addition, Beijing Shougang Eagles. The Racers lost their only game against the USSSA Pride 3-2, but took two of three games from both the Chicago Bandits and the Texas Charge to put their home record at an impressive 7-3. Their home surge rocketed the Racers up the standings from fifth before playing a home game, all the way up to second after the conclusion of their ten-game home stand.
The Racers impressive performance at Firestone Stadium was headlined by the outstanding play of outfielder Shellie Robinson, Kent State rookie Maddy Grimm, starting pitcher Emily Weiman, and reliever Aimee Creger.
Robinson has been absolutely incredible this season, particularly at home. At Firestone Stadium, Shellie is 13-31 (.419) with three home runs and eight RBI. She currently ranks second in the league in home runs and RBI, and her five home runs are already a single-season career high for the third year outfielder.
Maddy Grimm has been absolutely unbelievable at Firestone Stadium. Maddy has had five at bats at home, and has hit a double and three home runs, including a grand slam. Anytime Racers fans see Grimm step into the on-deck circle, they know they are soon in for a treat.
Emily Weiman had two starts this home stand, and earned Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game in each of them. In her two starts, Weiman pitched ten innings, allowing only eight hits, one earned run, and struck out 10 batters.
Aimee Creger is another Racer that has been stellar this year, and at Firestone Stadium in particular. After returning from her playing stint in Japan, Creger has struck out 15 of the 25 batters she has faced. In her two appearances at home, she has nine strikeouts in three innings, and has not allowed a hit or a run.
All of our Racers players have played fantastic so far this year:
Second baseman Ashley Thomas is 10-31 with three home runs and seven RBI at home.
Shortstop Sami Fagan leads the NPF in doubles and leads the Racers in walks.
Pitcher Megan Betsa was named Rookie of the Week for June 19-25.
Pitcher Alexis Silkwood leads the Racers with 4 wins, 14 appearances, and 2 saves.
A.J. Andrews was Player of the Game after laying out to make a game saving catch.
Third baseman Kelley Montalvo is second in the NPF with 35 defensive assists.
Outfielder Kristen Wyckoff used her blazing speed to get an inside-the-park home run.
Pitcher Jailyn Ford was Pitcher of the Week for June 26-July 2 with two wins and a save.
Catcher Griffin Joiner is second in the NPF in putouts & has caught 5 runners stealing.
Outfielder Megan Geer has been outstanding defensively with a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Catcher Hannah Day is hitting .375 with a double and three RBI on the season.
Sara Groenewegen recorded her first pro win, complete game, and hit on Saturday.
Shortstop Haley Fagan’s first pro at bat was an RBI single and she scored a run herself.
Utility player Chandler Rice has a 1.000 fielding percentage playing both infield and outfield.
Jenny Gilbert leads Akron with a .446 OBP & has five extra base hits and six RBI at home.
Nicole Schroeder hit two homers on Sunday & was Rookie of the Week (June 26-July 2).
Veteran pitcher Rachele Fico shut down the Pride in Akron’s historic win on June 8.
Catcher Shelby Hiers earned a start in her second career professional game.
Pitcher Laura Winter has held opponents scoreless in 5 of her last 6 appearances.
Sam Fischer-Cooke has made just one error in 95 chances playing first and shortstop.
As you can see, every member of this amazing group is contributing to the team’s impressive performance thus far. If you haven’t been out to Firestone Stadium yet this year, you’re missing out! Get your tickets today by calling the Akron Racers ticket office at (330) 376-8188. For more ticket information, check out our website, akronracers.org.
THE FIRST WEEK FROM THE PRESS BOX
06/28/2017 4:00 PM - Erin Duncan
As the first week of home games comes to an end, the action is in full swing here at Firestone Stadium as we get ready for another one. In the offseason, nothing quite prepares you for all of the excitement that a game day in Akron holds. With so much to see and experience, very few places in the stadium offer you as all-encompassing of a view of everything underway as the press box (where I have been fortunate enough to hold a seat for the season). From the field to the fans, very little goes on that the press box does not get a bird’s eye view of.
OPENING DAY IS HERE!
06/21/2017 10:04 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Today is the day! The time has finally arrived for our highly anticipated 2017 Akron Racers home opener! The brand new “Field of Dreams” at Firestone Stadium will play host to the Racers and the newest addition to the NPF, the Beijing Shougang Eagles, tonight at 7:05 p.m.
The Racers played four games against the Chinese National Team in 2007, defeating them 3-1 in the series. Akron currently has a two-game winning streak against China, dating back to July of 2007. China faced 5 of the 6 NPF teams that season, with their last game coming in a 2-0 loss to the Rockford Thunder on July 29, 2007. Historically, the Chinese National Team has a 7-22 record against NPF competition, competing in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
The Racers began this season on an incredibly long road trip, visiting each of the other team’s home stadiums before finally returning to Akron for our home opener against Beijing (who does not have a home stadium of their own this season). The Racers opened the 2017 season in Chicago against the defending Cowles Cup Champion Chicago Bandits. Akron managed to take the final game of the three game series 7-5, before heading to Florida to take on the USSSA Pride.
The Racers hadn’t beaten the Pride since July of 2015, and the Pride were hosting their home opener at their new home, USSSA Space Coast Stadium. After trailing early in the game, the Racers managed to come back and play spoiler, pulling off the upset 6-4 and breaking the 12 game losing streak to the Pride.
Akron then traveled to Texas to take on the Scrap Yard Dawgs and the Texas Charge to round out the season-opening road trip. The Racers won their first series of the season, defeating the Dawgs two games to one at the Scrap Yard. The Racers dropped both games against the Charge by three runs, scoring 9 in the second game this past Sunday.
The Racers’ offense has been very impressive thus far, currently on pace to break the NPF single season home run record. 9 different players have hit a home run for the Racers, and 15 different players have driven in a run through 11 games this season.
The Racers pitching newcomers are already starting to get their feet under them as well. The Racers first two picks in the 2017 NPF Draft, Sara Groenewegen and Megan Betsa have started 7 of the Racers 11 games. Akron’s final pick of 2017, Alexis Silkwood, has been a workhorse in relief thus far. She has made 8 appearances in 11 games, posting a 3.00 ERA. Our rookie pitchers have combined for 39 strikeouts thus far in the season.
Racers veterans Laura Winter and Rachele Fico have also been solid in relief this season. Winter has a very impressive 1.40 ERA, and Fico was able to shut down the USSSA Pride, throwing 4 innings of 1 hit, scoreless softball in the Racers historic win. 2016 first round pick Jailyn Ford and veteran Aimee Creger re-joined the team in Texas, bringing the staff back to full force for the season.
So now that you’re all caught up with what has happened thus far in 2017, you’re ready to come out to Firestone Stadium and catch some Racers action yourself! After such a long road trip to begin the season, the Racers are due for an extended home stand. The Racers will be playing eleven games here at Firestone Stadium from June 21st to July 2nd. This will be an action-packed week-or-so that you DO NOT want to miss.
Even after this first home stand, the Racers will host two more lengthy home stands throughout the rest of the season. The final home stand encompasses 14 games at Firestone Stadium to end the Racers regular season, including three exhibitions against the Canadian National Team. The 35 total games being held at Firestone Stadium this year are the most since 2004, when Firestone Stadium played host to the 7 games of the NPF Championship Series in addition to 30 Racers home games.
The bottom line is, there are ample opportunities to come out and watch the Akron Racers compete… starting tonight! Opening Night should be incredible, as we dedicate our Field of Dreams, and finally get to watch our Racers play in person in 2017. The play on the field and the entertainment at the stadium will prove to be amazing throughout the entirety of the season. Pick a day, or two, or five, or ten… and come out to Firestone Stadium!
You can find all of your ticket information on our website, and can reserve your tickets on our online ticket site or by calling (330) 376-8188 today!
TIME FLIES WHEN YOURE HAVING FUN
06/14/2017 10:17 AM - Erin Duncan
At all times, the Akron Racers are on the brain. A passion for this team runs through the veins of every individual that walks the halls here at Firestone Stadium. From the interns to the players, everyone is united by the shared dedication to making this organization thrive. Since the end of last season, there have been endless efforts to prepare for the next. With this devotion to the game, our Racers’ crew is driven year round to prepare for what next week brings.
On June 21, the Racers will welcome the Beijing Shougang Eagles to Firestone Stadium in their first home game of the 2017 season. While this event might only appear to be the mark of a fresh summer of softball in Akron, it represents so much more. With the start of home play comes the end to an offseason for the staff that never sleeps. Whether it be promoting the program, maintaining the stadium, or building the team, there is always a task to be accomplished. During the game, there will be a “Field of Dreams” dedication to recognize the hard work that went into the transformation of the field. With the office consistently busy and bustling in preparation for the season, there is excitement in the air as next Wednesday quickly approaches. While the work is never limited, the commitment to excellence flows much deeper than just among our behind the scenes team.
Along with their training, many of the Racers’ players take on the task of coaching at the collegiate level. Even when they are not playing, the group is making efforts to expand their understanding of the game that brings us all together. While holding this position offers an opportunity for the players to spread their knowledge, it also allows them to gain insight into the game from a different perspective. As many are coaching, others utilize the offseason to invest more energy on the field as they continue to play. Outside of the softball world, some even take this time to pursue a higher education. As they have faced the Bandits, Pride, and Scrap Yard Dawgs over the past few weeks, the enthusiasm from our players acts as encouragement for the incredible season to continue.
While the offseason marks a peak of importance for us, it also acts as a time of anticipation for our fans. From purchasing a favorite player’s jersey to calling with questions about the schedule, it is clear that the Racers are on the minds of more than just our team throughout the year. With the home-opener comes a rush of excitement, because it represents all that we have been working toward and looking forward to for months. There is no feeling that quite matches that which comes from cheering on the team you love, surrounded by strangers who somehow become friends. It is this emotion over a shared bond, both on the field and off, that makes everything we do worth it.
Tickets are available now for the home-opener, so share this experience with us as we welcome professional fastpitch back to Firestone Stadium. It is in high spirits that we will support the Akron Racers toward victory, in pursuit of an NPF Championship title. Go Racers!
06/07/2017 1:03 PM - A.J. Fagerlin
Often times, people say “it runs in the family” or “it’s in their genes” when it comes to athletic ability. This is, seemingly, often the case. Sometimes kids pick up their talent from their parents. Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr., Dell and Steph/Seth Curry, Archie and Peyton/Eli Manning… all great parent/child athlete pairings. But what seems to be even more common, is siblings (both or all) succeeding in the same sport. Venus and Serena Williams, Peyton and Eli Manning as mentioned above… greatness really does seem to run in the family sometimes. This sibling success is arguably the most prominent in our beloved sport of softball.
There are family connections throughout collegiate and professional softball. You’d be hard-pressed to find a NCAA softball team that doesn’t have a pair of sisters currently on the roster, or a ton of players whose sisters have played collegiately in the past. It is a very, very common occurrence in softball.
The Racers recently announced the signing of former Auburn shortstop, Haley Fagan. Haley’s sister, Sami, happens to be the reigning NPF Rookie of the Year, the first in Racers history. Sami and Haley’s other sister, Kasey, also played Division I softball. What an accomplishment! Three sisters excelling in Division I NCAA softball (at SEC schools no less), and then to have two of them end up as professional teammates? Astonishing.
The two took to Twitter to express their excitement to join forces once again on the diamond (follow them @samifagan and @queenhaley02). Sami and Haley will play together again once Sami returns to the Racers after playing in Japan the past few months.
The Fagan’s are not the only players on the Akron Racers roster who have seen loads of softball success in their family. Rookie outfielder Nicole Schroeder (who is off to an incredible start this season) has three older sisters that each played Division I softball as well. Jennifer and Katie played at UCLA, Michelle at Stanford, and Nicole chose to blaze her own trail at Arkansas. Nicole had arguably the best season of all of the Schroeder sisters, this season for the Razorbacks with 17 homers, 49 RBI, and a .767 slugging percentage.
Racers stars Sami Fagan and Rawlings Gold Glove Award winning A.J. Andrews, had the opportunity to watch their younger sisters follow in their footsteps all the way to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2017.
Haley Fagan and the Auburn Tigers were ousted in the Super Regionals by the eventual NCAA champion Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma was lead largely by the play of USSSA Pride star Sierra Romero’s younger sister Sydney, and 2017 NPF draftee M.J. Knighten’s sister Shay. A.J.’s sister, Aliyah Andrews, helped the LSU Tigers make it all the way to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series. LSU defeated UCLA in their first WCWS game, but were eliminated after losses to SEC foe and WCWS runner-up Florida and PAC-12 powerhouse Oregon.
Racers rookie Sara Groenewegen’s sister, Marina, also excelled as a collegiate softball player, playing at Bradley University. Racers 2017 draftee Sydni Emanuel played on the same team as her sister, Cortni, at Georgia. As good as Sydni was in her time as a Bulldog (school record holder in career batting average), Cortni may be on her way to an even better career than her older sister. Cortni has very similar statistics to Sydni thus far in her collegiate career, and bested her on the 2017 All-SEC Team, earning First Team honors while Sydni was on the Second Team.
Maybe these siblings were just born with softball playing genes. Maybe they were trained by the same outstanding coaches. Maybe they all just worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today. To see such success from multiple people within the same immediate family, in such a difficult sport to excel in is incredibly impressive. Congratulations to all of these families on everything they have been able to accomplish.
You won’t want to miss our incredible Akron Racers sisters this season. We have older sisters paving the way for their siblings to follow, younger siblings looking to make their own name, and even a pair of Fagan shortstops suiting up for the same team! Whether our players have biological siblings or not, or if their siblings play(ed) softball or not, every player on the Racers has at least 24 sisters that they are playing with. This team is like a family, and for this family… the sky is the limit.
THE PROMOTIONAL SCHEDULE IS HERE!
05/24/2017 9:53 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
That’s right! The highly anticipated release of our Akron Racers 2017 promotional schedule has finally occurred. After a new team was announced, and we finally locked in our home schedule for the year, we could finally finalize the dates for all of our awesome promotions this season!
The season will start out with a bang, with a whole Opening Week Celebration. Tuesday, June 20th, the Akron Summit County Public Library will host two more showings of “Burn the Ships”, the award-winning documentary that follows a year in the life of the Akron Racers. Showings are at 6 and 8:30 pm, with a chance to meet the 2017 Akron Racers players before the start of the home season from 7:30 to 8:30 pm.
Wednesday, June 21st is the home opener for the Racers. We will be celebrating the hard work of everyone who made our amazing, brand new field possible with our “Field of Dreams” Dedication. In the coming days, we will conduct special celebrations such as our Welcome the World night, celebrating the incredible diversity of the NPF, Return to the Olympics 2020 night, celebrating softball’s return to the list of Olympic events in Tokyo in 2020, and the Open Streets festivities will take place at and around Firestone Stadium, closing the streets to cars and opening them to the people.
Throughout the season, we will have a great variety of fun, charitable, and money saving promotions for our awesome fans. We have many special celebrations that will be fun for the whole family. Things such as Pepsi Kids Day, Movie Night, Super Heroes and Princesses Day, Dads and Daughters Day, Kids “Light the Night”, Wheelie’s Sweet 16 Birthday Party, Christmas in July, Girls with Their Guitars, Ladies Night, and 80’s Night will jam Firestone Stadium with loads of fun and excitement throughout the 2017 Racers season.
There will also be multiple games dedicated to benefiting specific charitable efforts or honoring special groups of people that do so much good in our communities. Things such as Pink the Park, Ronald McDonald House Night, Summa Day, and Akron Children’s Hospital Day all aim to help those in need. Other promotions such as First Responders Night and our Salute to Education will honor those that help keep us safe, and those that help us learn and grow.
There are multiple gameday promotions that will help save you money here at the ballpark. Specials such as Dollar Dog Night, College ID Night, High $5 Day Game, and Half Price Ticket Night are all put in place to save you some dough when coming out to a Racers game.
Other nights are dedicated to some of our incredible sponsors. This season there will be nights dedicated to Home Savings, McDonald’s, the Akron Zoo, and Chick Fil-A. Our other great partners that sponsor our other promotions include The Buckeye Corvette Club, Cleveland Clinic/Akron General, Gavin Scott, Metropolis Popcorn, Comicon, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Association, and Speedy Office Supply. Thank you to everyone who makes our awesome promotions possible!
Now to what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for… you can’t have a promotional schedule without bobblehead giveaways right?! Don’t worry, we will have just that on the nights dedicated to two of our incredible, award-winning players. Mark your calendars… July 27th will be A.J. Andrews Night featuring a statue of the star right fielder flashing some leather in Rawlings Gold Glove fashion. August 8th will be Sami Fagan Night featuring a bobblehead of the first NPF Rookie of the Year in Racers history.
As you can see, the fun will never cease at Firestone Stadium this year. The season will be capped off, as always, by Fan Appreciation Night dedicated to you. Our amazing fans. Without the fans, none of this would be possible. So thank you! The Racers will be in action before you know it, so lock in your tickets today! Call (330) 376-8188, check out our online ticket site here, and check out akronracers.org for all your ticket information. See you all soon! Go Racers!
MEET THE INTERNS: ERIN DUNCAN
05/18/2017 9:00 AM - Akron Racers
As a young girl, there were very few times I experienced the same sensation of euphoria as when I played at Firestone Stadium. Staring at the pitcher’s hand from the batter’s box, trying to focus on the seams of the ball while surrounded by the chaos in the stands from proud parents and a cheering dugout full of teammates. After a windup, the ball is soaring through the air and with a crack of the bat, it is off to the races around the bases on a field that has magic in the air. While walking through the front gates as a new intern, the memories of those moments came rushing back as I could still feel that same excitement all around me.
My name is Erin Duncan and it is with enthusiasm that I am taking on the roll as a Media/PR Intern throughout the summer in a place that instills so much passion in me. With my love of softball and interest in public relations, this opportunity is one that I am extremely grateful for. During this fall, I will be heading into my junior year of college at Ohio University as I pursue a bachelor’s degree in journalism as a strategic communication major with a minor in marketing. At school, I am involved in several public relations related student organizations and work as a resident assistant.
Growing up in North Canton, the Akron Racers and other Northeast Ohio sports teams have stayed close to my heart. In 2015, I graduated from Jackson High School after playing seven years of fastpitch softball through the district’s programs. As a local high school team, we participated in tournaments at Firestone Stadium, including the Ohio Invitational, where my lasting impressions originated. As an intern, I look forward to working behind the scenes for an organization that impacts young players in such a prominent way.
During my free time, I enjoy creative writing, photography and traveling, as well as following local sports of course. In the future, I hope to pursue this industry in various places that allow me to experience the world. It is a dream of mine to do this work on a higher level for a professional sports team. One of my passions is contributing to philanthropic efforts, which I hope to be able to incorporate into my everyday life.
Throughout the duration of my internship, I wish to gain experience in any and every aspect of the industry. I have dedicated this summer to learning as much as possible, while having a little fun along the way. With an open-mind I look forward to making lasting connections, while gaining knowledge from those above and around me. I encourage you to follow us throughout the season and cheer on the team that makes all of this possible. Go Racers!
FINAL WEEK OF THE INTERNSHIP
05/10/2017 10:16 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Sadly, this incredible semester as an intern with the Akron Racers is coming to end for me. It is now time to reflect on my great experience and all that I have accomplished in my time with the Racers. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Firestone Stadium, and hate to see it end.
I have learned so much in my semester here that I will take and carry with me throughout the rest of my career in sports and writing. I have gained so much valuable knowledge and experience. I have certainly become a better writer, and I feel so much more prepared and confident to enter the world of sports journalism. Writing these blogs, newsletters, press releases, and everything else that I have written in my time with the Racers has been amazing. It has allowed me to do something that I enjoy, while gaining incredibly valuable experience in my field. Even just being here in the offseason has without a doubt been very beneficial to me as a sports writer.
Gathering stats and essentially scouting college prospects was also awesome for me. As the “Media/PR Intern”, I didn’t really expect to have much to do with the actual player personnel aspect of the team. So being so heavily involved in the draft process was so neat for me. I have always had a passion for things like that (creating my own mock drafts every year near NFL Draft time) so I was thrilled to actually be part of the process for a team in a college draft. It really gets me excited about the opportunities that I may have in the future in my career in sports. Essentially, I loved all of the “work” that I did while I was here, because it was stuff that I already enjoy and do on my own time anyway. Making it meaningful for a professional sports organization was very rewarding.
Although what I did was enjoyable, it is the people that made this experience, and make this organization, so great. Everyone here at the Akron Racers is incredible. They were all so welcoming when I first started, and have consistently made me feel like I am part of the team. Joey is just outstanding. To see the things that she does, and the dedication and passion that she has for this organization, it’s incredible. Everyone here works so hard to help this organization succeed.
I would like to thank John, Stacy, and Joey for giving me this incredible opportunity, and everyone here for making my experience great. I am truly grateful. Before, I had only attended one Racers game last season, could name only a few Racers players, and only ever really turned college softball on TV when nothing else was on. Now, I know the Racers roster like the back of my hand, tune into softball any chance I get, and I plan on spending a lot more time here at Firestone Stadium this summer watching our team compete.
Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read my blog posts. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. I’m sure that the new intern for the summer will continue to provide great content for you to read each week. If you ever have the chance to be a part of this amazing organization, do it in a heartbeat. I look forward to watching the team compete for the Cowles Cup this season, and plan to be in attendance very often.
Between the time I first wrote this blog post and the time I posted it, I have been offered and accepted the opportunity to continue with the team throughout the summer, during the Akron Racers season. I was sad to see my time end with the team, but now I get to stay! I am incredibly excited to stay and be here during the heart of the season, and I look forward to continuing to work and grow as a writer.
Thank you, and GO RACERS!
ONE MONTH AWAY!
05/03/2017 9:57 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
We are now less than one month away from the start of the NPF season!!! The season opener is on June 1st, as your Akron Racers head to Chicago to take on the Bandits, kicking off the 2017 NPF season. The Racers will actually make a trip to each of the other team’s ballparks before they play here at Firestone Stadium. Following the Chicago series, Akron will travel to Florida to take on the USSSA Pride, then head over to Texas where they will face both the ScrapYard Dawgs and the Charge. Then on June 21st, it will finally be time for professional softball here in Akron, as the Racers will host the newest addition to the NPF, the Beijing Shougang, in our highly anticipated home opener.
Now that the draft is complete, the teams’ rosters are looking more and more clear, complete, and ready for the start of the season. Here in Akron, we should have a great mix of returning veterans and new, young talent. Many, many fan-favorites are returning this season, and we will see the debut of our highly touted rookie class and free agent signings. As I outlined last week, there are certainly a lot of reasons to be excited for the upcoming Racers season.
Our “Field of Dreams” has been put to great use already, hosting tournaments and rivalry games for high school softball teams throughout the state. The playing surface looks immaculate, and the Racers players cannot wait for their chance to take the field. The college season is starting to wrap up, so that means we’re getting very close to our players arriving in Akron and reporting for duty!
Here at the Racers, we have many outstanding ticket packages and deals that give you incredible access to the team, without breaking the bank. Want your child to feel like they are part of the team? Be a Racer for a Day, or join the Field of Dreams or Diamond Team. Have a large number of people and want to celebrate some special occasion? Check out our Picnic, Birthday, and Group packages. You can even get your picture taken with the team after the game. Want to bring the whole family? Our Family Four Pack is a great deal. Don’t have a group? No problem. We have single game, 5 and 10 game flex packs, as well as season ticket offers that are great for any softball fan. There is something for everyone! Check out our website and lock in your tickets today!
We are very excited for the release of our promotional schedule. I’m sure there will be tons of fun, exciting nights here at Firestone Stadium. Lots of fun themes, and nights sponsored by our great partners. Additionally, you always have the opportunity to meet players and get autographs, or snag a foul ball to take home as a souvenir.
Great players, great softball, great deals, and a great time. That’s what you get when you come to an Akron Racers game at Firestone Stadium. Don’t want to wait until June 21st to see your Racers play? Check out NPFTV where you can stream every NPF game live, and never miss an inning of Racers softball. I know I am certainly excited for the season to start, and I hope to see many, many fans pack the newly-renovated Firestone Stadium throughout the 2017 season to support our Akron Racers on their quest for the Cowles Cup.
10 REASONS TO BE EXCITED FOR THE 2017 SEASON
04/26/2017 9:51 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
1. Firestone Stadium has undergone major renovations, providing the players with a state of the art playing field to put on an outstanding show for the fans.
2. The Racers will be welcoming an outstanding class of rookies in 2017: Pitchers Sara Groenewegen (Minnesota), Megan Betsa (Michigan), and Alexis Silkwood (Mississippi State). Outfielders Megan Geer (Tennessee), Sydni Emanuel (Georgia), and Nicole Schroeder (Arkansas). Infielder Maddy Grimm (Kent State), and utility Chloe Miller (Wisconsin).
3. The Racers will also be returning many fan-favorites from the 2016 squad, including Rookie of the Year shortstop Sami Fagan, Rawlings Gold Glove Award Winner A.J. Andrews, Racers legends Kelley Montalvo and Taylor Schlopy, and many others.
4. It's not just the Racers! We host many outstanding high school, travel ball, and college tournaments at Firestone Stadium and other area fields. The action has already begun!
5. We have many special group ticket packages and offers available if you want to bring your team, camp, birthday party etc. to Firestone Stadium this summer.
6. Even singular tickets are very reasonable, starting at $7 for a single game ticket. There are also multiple-game flex plans available if you plan on being a regular at the ball park this season. Check out our website for all your ticket information.
7. The people are awesome. Owner/GM Joey Arrietta, the Racers full-time staff, and our game day employees do an incredible job of providing the absolute best overall experience possible for our fans.
8. Who doesn't love ball park food? Hot dogs, popcorn, even beer will be available at Firestone Stadium throughout the season.
9. We're right in your backyard! I'm sure a lot of you live here in Akron, and attending a Racers game allows you to avoid hour or so drives, outrageous gameday traffic, and ridiculous parking prices.
10. Our games are fast-paced. Games typically last around two hours, providing incredible entertainment without taking up your entire day/night.
The Racer experience is unlike any other. Where else can you watch a highly competitive professional sport, meet all of the players, take home a foul ball as a souvenir, and have a yummy ball park meal... all in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable amount of money? Nowhere but the NPF and Firestone Stadium.
There are many, many reasons to come out to Firestone Stadium this season. Let us know on Facebook and Twitter what your reasons are for coming to the ball park, and why you love our Akron Racers
IT'S ALMOST DRAFT DAY!
04/19/2017 10:17 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
The 2017 NPF College Draft, presented by 2XU, will be held this upcoming Monday, April 24th, at 8:00 pm ET. This year’s draft will be held at Acme Feed and Seed, a multi-tiered, 22,000 square foot entertainment venue located in the center of Nashville’s downtown Broadway district. All five NPF teams will participate in the 5 round, 26 pick draft, with the USSSA Pride set to make the first selection, and the Akron Racers holding 8 picks of their own.
Want to take in the draft with your fellow Racer fans and staff? RSVP to attend the 2017 Akron Racers Draft Party! This year’s party will be held at The Twisted Olive in Green, and will begin at 6:00 pm. Prior to the draft beginning at 8:00, fans will be able to take part in games, giveaways, and have a chance to purchase food and drink from the Twisted Olive’s Pub located on the first floor of the restaurant. Once the draft begins, sit back and see which players we will be welcoming to Akron this season! To RSVP to the party, call (330) 376-8188.
Can’t make it to the draft party? The draft will be streamed live on NPF TV! Regarding the draft, NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf, says, “We are looking forward to integrating more athlete reaction into this year’s Draft. This is a night for 26 individuals to be honored with the prestigious opportunity of continuing their careers professionally and we look forward to sharing the moment they hear their names called, with viewers throughout the world, on NPFTV.”
If you check out the stats pages on the NCAA website or even just tune into a college softball game, you will see that there are many outstanding senior softball players throughout the country that deserve the chance to play at the next level. 26 fortunate, hardworking women will hear their named called on Monday, and get that extraordinary opportunity to continue their playing career at the professional level. Here at the Racers, we have been working very hard to narrow down that incredible list of candidates to make sure that Joey is ready to make her decisions on draft night! Remember to RSVP to the draft party or tune in on NPF TV to watch the 2017 NPF College Draft unfold on Monday!
WHAT ARE WE UP TO?
04/12/2017 9:46 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Our season here at the Akron Racers and the Akron Racers Foundation officially kicked off this past weekend with the Ohio Invitational. Before you know it, there will be tons of action at Firestone Stadium, and the Racers season is right around the corner.
So with our season about to be in full swing, I thought I’d let you guys know what we have been up to here at the Akron Racers to get ready for the season. In the first few blogs that I posted, I introduced to you each of the interns that we have here this semester. Laura Wheeler (Social Media), Dawn Ceccardi (Promotions), Meg O’Gorman (Amateur Events), myself, A.J. Fagerlin (Media/PR), and the entire Racers staff have been very busy preparing for the upcoming season.
Lately, we have really been trying to promote our documentary, “Burn the Ships”, which premiered March 31st and April 2nd and 3rd at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The NPF College Draft is April 24th at 8:00 pm, so we have been getting ready for that as well. The team has also been working on forming our game day staff and hiring new interns for this summer. We have also been working to get the playing fields and the stadium clean and in perfect condition for the start of the softball season.
Laura Wheeler has been very busy keeping up with each of the Akron Racers social media pages. After completing her internship, Laura will continue with the Racers as the Marketing Communications Specialist. She has been working to help plan our promotional schedule for the upcoming season, as well as our draft party for the 2017 NPF College Draft that will be held at the Twisted Olive on April 24th. Lots of planning for the upcoming season, and social media upkeep on Laura’s agenda for the rest of her internship.
Dawn Ceccardi has had the opportunity to meet with many sponsors, donors, and partners of the Racers as the Promotions Intern. Dawn says that this will make for a great season full of lots of amazing promotions, and she has had a lot of fun helping plan it. Promotions that Dawn and Laura have been working on include nights such as Country Night and Mascot Night. Stay tuned for the full promotional schedule coming soon! Dawn stated that fans can anticipate larger than life promotions and lots of fun events at the stadium this season, and she is proud to be a part of it. Personally, Dawn has started a new job outside of Victoria’s Secret, and although she misses the company, she is happy to be in a new field. Dawn is very excited for the Racers season and is anxious to see everything that she has helped plan executed successfully.
Helping our Director of Amateur Events, Jill Williams, has been keeping Meg O’Gorman very busy as the Amateur Events Intern. Meg has been assisting Jill in the planning of many, many tournaments that the Akron Racers Foundation will be putting on this spring. They have been planning five different high school tournaments for the month of April, as well as five other travel ball tournaments. Planning for these tournaments includes registering teams, setting up hotels, and preparing the playing fields for the games. Once the tournaments get started, the final leg of Meg’s internship will be running the tournaments and ensuring that everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Meg is really enjoying her time with the Racers and can’t wait for the tournaments to start!
As for me… in addition to updating the blog each week, I have been writing newsletters, press releases, as well as writing and doing other things here and there to help the team. A major responsibility of mine is draft preparation. I have been poring over stats from each softball team in NCAA Division I to help narrow down our list of potential draft prospects. Each week I update players’ stats to assist our GM, Joey, with her ultimate draft decisions. I have also been gathering pictures and composing bios for many possible draftees so we are completely ready for the draft come April 24th. I am thoroughly enjoying my internship thus far. For me, it’s sort of the best of both worlds. Through all the writing I’ve been doing, I get experience as a journalist. And with all of the preparation for the draft I’ve been doing, I kind of feel like a scout as well. I plan to continue to work hard, learn more, and gain more and more experience in the field of media and professional sports. Everyone here is amazing, and I am so glad I chose the Akron Racers.
Be sure to check out everyone’s hard work! Check out our website for more blog posts and news releases, stay tuned to see which players we will be welcoming to Akron through the draft, come out to our tournaments that we will be hosting throughout the spring, and buy your tickets now for a can’t-miss 2017 Akron Racers season!!!
THE SHIPS HAVE BEEN BURNT
04/05/2017 9:43 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
This past weekend was the debut of Akron Racers documentary, “Burn the Ships”. The turnout was outstanding, and the movie itself was even more incredible. I attended the premiere on Friday at the Akron Public Library, and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.
There were so many people interested in seeing the first showing of the film, that a rather lengthy stand-by line formed of people just hoping to get the chance to get in the theater to watch the ground-breaking documentary. The entire Racers staff was in attendance, including GM Joey Arrietta, as well as our All-NPF third baseman and focal point of the film Kelley Montalvo, and our beloved cheetah, Wheelie. Also at the premiere, were directors of the film, Danielle Miller and Julia Thorndike from Think Media Studios, who held a Q & A session upon the completion of the screening. It was a very cool opportunity for fans of the team and the movie to have the chance to meet and talk to so many vital pieces to the film and the team. I know a lot of young Racers and softball fans were extremely excited to meet Kelley.
I am certainly no film critic or expert, but “Burn the Ships” was extremely well done, if I do say so myself. The long hours of hard work were evident in the quality of the film. The many interviews conducted, and the vast amount of raw footage, really provided insight into the team and league and what they were going through. Throughout the film, we heard from multiple Racers players, personnel from across the league, including NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf, as well as former professional softball players.
The movie really focuses on Kelley and Joey, as the Racers go through their 2015 NPF season. Both really let Danielle and Julia into their life to provide them with the outstanding material that was used to make this film and get the message across. Their dedication to the film, and to the team, is extraordinary.
Throughout “Burn the Ships”, the concern for players’ equality and overall well-being as professional athletes is expressed. These women make substantially less money than their male counterparts in the MLB. The film provides some incredible statistics that shine a light on the pay gap and major inequality problems that we have between men’s and women’s sports today. For example, the number one overall draft pick in the NPF College Draft will make a small fraction of what the MLB’s number one overall pick made just in his signing bonus.
The accounts of the players and personnel that Miller and Thorndike talked to really furthered the message and concern. Players are faced with an extremely tough decision every offseason... Can they afford to play another season, or do they have to get on with their career? Right now, players cannot make a living by playing in the NPF. They have to take on other jobs in order to simply live their life. Can you imagine the best players in the MLB, NBA, or NFL having to get another job during their offseason in order to make a living? No. They have the opportunity to work on their game and develop as a player in their offseason. They don’t have to worry about how they are going to make it by. That is a goal outlined by Kempf and the NPF. Players should be full-time players. Little girls should be able to dream of being a professional softball player, and actually be able to make that their career.
“Burn the Ships” did an amazing job of getting the hard-hitting message across, while still keeping the mood primarily light-hearted, and keeping the viewer interested with the suspense of the 2015 softball season. The way they incorporated funny moments into a discussion of a rather serious and heavy topic was brilliant. Throughout the playing of the movie, you heard many instances of laughter, or emotional remarks in response to events that happened over the course of the Racers quest for a NPF Championship. “Burn the Ships” truly opened the eyes of the viewer while making them laugh, and keeping them on the edge of their seat.
“Burn the Ships” was emotionally, intellectually, and visually stunning. I think it really captured the attention of, and connected with, nearly every single person in the audience. I highly recommend watching the movie once it is out and available, if you did not get the chance to see it this weekend. I encourage you to also come out to a Racers game to support these outstanding women, and see what the Racers and professional softball are all about. I would also like to encourage you to “Burn the Ships” yourself. Whatever it is you want to do, go for it and don’t look back. Don’t let anything stand in your way. After watching this movie, the heart and dedication that Joey, these players, and everyone involved in professional softball has is unbelievable. They are all absolutely inspirational, and truly deserve the change that they are working so hard for.
"BURN THE SHIPS" THIS WEEKEND
03/29/2017 9:50 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
The excitement level for the premiere of our feature length documentary film “Burn the Ships” is as high as ever. As of today, we are just TWO DAYS from the first screening of the film, right here in Akron.
In case you missed last week’s blog or don’t already know, “Burn the Ships” is a documentary that follows a year in the life of our Akron Racers. Danielle Miller and Julia Thorndike filmed the Racers on and off between October 2014 and August 2015 in an effort to capture what professional softball and the Akron Racers are all about. The film highlights the immense struggles that teams and players go through today being involved in professional softball. “Burn the Ships” features accounts from our own Akron Racers players, as well as Co-Owner and GM Joey Arrietta.
The Racers are thrilled for the opportunity to have their story told on screen, and are working hard to get people in seats to witness this amazing film. Joey and the producers of the movie from Think Media Studios actually appeared on WKYC on Monday to talk about the film and gain interest and excitement for the premiere.
On top of that, our own All-NPF third baseman Kelley Montalvo will be back in town for the premiere! Kelley will be at the showings on Friday and Sunday. Joey Arrietta will be at each showing, and our mascot Wheelie will also be at the screening on Friday. So be sure you don’t miss your chance to meet some Racers favorites!
“Burn the Ships” is a film that you do not want to miss. Tickets for each showing are on sale now. Each person that purchases a ticket and attends a showing of the film will receive a complimentary ticket to a 2017 Akron Racers game courtesy of the Akron Racers.
Once again, showings will be Friday, March 31st at 7:00 pm at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and Sunday April 2nd at 11:10 am and Monday April 3rd at 4:15 pm at Tower City Cinemas in Cleveland. You can purchase tickets at http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2017/burn-the-ships or www.komenneohio.org/ne-ohio-events/other-events.
If you have not seen the “Burn the Ships” trailer, I highly recommend checking it out here: https://vimeo.com/176201817
Eye-opening documentary about our Akron Racers, opportunity to meet the GM, mascot, and star player, free tickets to a Racers game… sounds good right? Count me in! I hope to see you all there!
BURN THE SHIPS
03/22/2017 9:57 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
The Akron Racers and Think Media Studios are pleased to announce that their feature length documentary film, “Burn the Ships” will be premiering at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival!
“Burn the Ships”, directed by Julia Thorndike and Danielle Miller and produced by Brian Glazen (all of Think Media Studios), follows a year in the life of our Akron Racers. Thorndike and Miller filmed the Racers off and on from October 2014 to August 2015. The film features accounts from people across the NPF including Racers players, NPF commissioner Cheri Kempf, and our own General Manager Joey Arrietta.
The film documents the immense struggles that professional softball has faced over the years, and documents how the Racers have been overcoming the numerous obstacles. “Burn the Ships” highlights the trials and tribulations that have caused women’s professional softball to suspend its existence on multiple occasions, and led to many, many teams coming and going throughout the years. Things such as the tremendous pay difference for women’s and men’s professional athletes, amongst others.
As I talked about a few weeks ago, the Racers have been the one team that has been there from the very beginning. Akron has not wavered since the dawn of the Racers in 1999 in the WSPL, overcoming hardships, and continue to thrive today. This is due to the overall no-quit attitude of the franchise, and the incredible determination of our Co-Owner and GM Joey Arrietta.
Joey’s dedication to this sport, this team, and these women is clear and constant. She does everything that she possibly can to provide the best possible opportunities for her players and the fans. As Joey says in the film, “I don’t give up… That’s not an option for me.” This determination is very evident whenever you are around Joey. She says, “We play for a different reason.” It’s not all about wins and losses for Joey. It’s about being there for each and every player, and continuing the overall success of the franchise that means so much to so many.
The title of “Burn the Ships” fits right in with the never give up attitude of Joey and the Racers. “Burn the Ships” is a phrase that the Racers have used for motivation. It stems from Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes when he came to conquer the new world. He told his men to “burn the ships” because there was no turning back. That is a perfect mantra for the Akron Racers. There is no turning back… we are here to stay.
“Burn the Ships” will be playing in both Akron and Cleveland during the Cleveland International Film Festival. There is a showing at the Akron-Summit County Public Library on Friday, March 31st at 7:00 pm. There will be two additional showings in Cleveland at Tower City Cinemas, Sunday, April 2nd at 11:10 am and Monday, April 3rd at 4:15 pm. Tickets for the screenings are $16, and attending a showing gets you a complimentary ticket to an Akron Racers game, courtesy of the Akron Racers. Tickets are on sale now!
Watch the “Burn the Ships” trailer here
Be sure to come out and watch this incredible film that will undoubtedly open some eyes, and will hopefully help the league and our team to continue to push forward.
SOFTBALL, SOFTBALL, AND MORE SOFTBALL!
03/15/2017 9:57 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Our Akron Racers are proud to call Firestone Stadium home. We play our home games here, and the stadium is also where our offices are located. But Firestone Stadium is certainly not exclusive to the Racers and professional softball. Starting in early April, our new “Field of Dreams” at Firestone Stadium will be heavily utilized by teams in many different ranks of the sport. The Akron Racers Foundation is responsible for putting on many tournaments at Firestone Stadium, and surrounding fields, throughout the spring and summer.
In addition to professional softball… college, high school, and travel ball are all played here at Firestone Stadium. In fact, the first game to be played on our newly renovated “Field of Dreams” will be a high school matchup between nearby rivals Ellet and Springfield. The storied Akron-area softball programs will square off April 7th at 4:30. This battle of former state champion schools will open our first amateur tournament of the year, the Ohio Invitational, which will run through April 9th.
Playing at Firestone Stadium is a big deal for softball teams. For the Ohio Invitational, for example, schools from all across the state and even outside the state of Ohio are making the trip to Akron to play. Schools from Ohio, Michigan, and even New York make up the 19-team field. Firestone Stadium also plays host to two all-star events, and three championships including the MAC, OHSAA, and USCAA championship tournaments.
Another big event that we host exclusively here at Firestone Stadium is the Rubber City Rivalry Series. This event allows some of the biggest local high school rivals to square off on the biggest softball stage around. Area rivals such as St. Vincent St. Mary and Archbishop Hoban will battle for supremacy right here in Akron. Other matchups include South Range vs Kirkland, Woodridge vs Waterloo, Mathews vs LaBrae, Smithville vs Chippewa, Magnificat vs St. Joseph Academy, Poland vs Canfield, Tusky Central Catholic vs Strasburg, and once again, Ellet vs Springfield. These games will be taking place two at a time on April 12th, 19th, 24th 26th, and May 4th.
Firestone and other local fields such as Pony Field, Diamond Crystal Field, and Logan Fields will all be utilized for our multitude of tournaments this softball season. Five high school tournaments will be played, providing local schools a chance to compete at a high level at a top-of-the-line facility. There is even a JV Jamboree tournament to give even more players the opportunity to play at a highly competitive level. There will also be five travel ball tournaments put on by the Akron Racers Foundation, with ages ranging from 10u to at least 18u.
Our “Field of Dreams” will certainly be immediately hosting a full load of play. Before, and even during the Racers season, amateur events will be utilizing every chance available to hit our brand new diamond. Director of Amateur Events, Jill Williams, and the rest of the Akron Racers and Akron Racers Foundation have been working very hard to get teams registered, and to set up an optimal schedule for our each of our tournaments to provide teams and fans with quality and entertaining experiences.
You don’t have to wait until the Racers’ home opener for great softball at Firestone Stadium! Starting with the opening night of our “Field of Dreams” April 7th, there will be many, many opportunities to come out to the park. Check out the Akron Racers Foundation website for all of the information you may need for our amateur events and tournaments. Start clearing space in your spring and summer schedule for frequent softball trips! Get ready to come check out our new field, and to watch the best of travel, high school, college, and professional softball. Tickets are on sale now! We will see you here at Firestone Stadium before you know it!
THERE'S PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL?
03/08/2017 10:57 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Of course there is professional softball! And since you’re reading this post, you likely already know that. But when I tell someone that I’m interning with the Akron Racers, they often say “what’s that?” And when I explain to them that it is a professional softball team right here in Akron, the most common response is “there’s professional softball?” It’s a shame that we have such an amazing team of hard working women playing right in our backyard, and a lot of people don’t even know that the team or league exists. So yes… there is professional softball. Let me inform anyone that may not know, and give a little more detail and background for our already enlightened fans.
The league that the Akron Racers play in is called the NPF (National Pro Fastpitch). The league currently consists of five teams: the USSSA Pride in Florida, The Scrapyard Dawgs and Texas Charge in Texas, the Chicago Bandits, and of course the Akron Racers. The playing season starts in early June and ends in late August. Being a professional sports league, players are acquired through a collegiate draft and through free agency, just like the NFL, NBA, or MLB. The MLB is the Official Development partner of the NPF and continues efforts to help promote the league and women’s softball. Gameplay and league rules are very similar to that of college softball.
Those are the basics of today’s NPF… but how did this all come about? The first professional softball league was founded in 1976, and was called the International Women’s Professional Softball Association. The IWPSA, founded by elite female athletes such as Billie Jean King, featured 10 teams in cities across the nation that competed in 120 games featuring 60 doubleheaders. The league lasted four years before lack of funds, high travel costs, and inadequate facilities ultimately led to its demise.
Although without a professional league, fastpitch softball flourished collegiately and internationally until a new league was formed by the Cowles family in May 1997. The league originally was called the WPF (Women’s Pro Fastpitch) but was changed to the WPSL (Women’s Professional Softball League) in 1998. The WPSL was sponsored by AT&T Wireless, and the inaugural championship was won by the Orlando Wahoos in August 1997.
In 1998 however, the Wahoos operation was suspended by the NPF, and their players were assigned to a new franchise called the Akron Racers. Akron was awarded a team following the hosting of 3,873 fans for the inaugural NPF All-Star Game at Firestone Stadium. In December 1998, the Racers participated in the inaugural WPSL Draft, and began play in 1999.
After starting in 1999, the Racers have fought through all of the hardships that the teams have faced, and are the only team from the WPSL remaining today. Following the 2000 season, the WPSL announced the suspension of the 2001 season to concentrate on expansion for the 2002 season. The current league, National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), didn’t begin play until 2004, with the Racers being the only team to make the transition from the WPSL. Additionally, Akron is the only team to last to present day since the 2004 dawn of the NPF. The league has seen many franchises struggle, and many teams come and go… but the Racers haven’t wavered, and are still thriving today.
Women’s sports, including fastpitch softball, are on the rise, and continue to take steps to become more and more prominent. All NPF games are streamed online, and many games in the league’s history have been broadcast on ESPN. Professional softball games have earned better ratings on ESPN than NHL and MLS games. The NPF has been the stage of many prominent players that even the most casual of softball fans will know… Players such as Monica Abbott, Cat Osterman, and even Jennie Finch! The current players continue to accomplish incredible breakthroughs, such as our own A.J. Andrews becoming the first woman EVER to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
It is disappointing that the NPF isn’t at the level of other professional sports leagues, and it is really a shame that many people don’t even know it exists. Once exposed to the league and when people come out to a game, they realize what they have been missing, and see just how awesome our professional softball league is. With the hard work of the players, teams, fans, and the league itself, more and more people will discover and come to love the NPF just as we do.
Didn’t know there was professional softball? Now you do. Make an effort to come out to a game and see what it’s all about. If you already love professional softball and our Akron Racers, bring friends that aren’t as familiar. Expose new people and spread the love of professional softball! Tickets are on sale now! For information, go to akronracers.org or call the ticket office at (330) 376-8188 today! Go Racers!
FIELD OF DREAMS
03/01/2017 11:08 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
By the time June rolls around, Firestone Stadium will have a fresh new look. The team at AG Design has been working incredibly hard all offseason to provide us with our “Field of Dreams” and make our vision a reality. The work that they have already gotten done is amazing. And by the time they are finished, Firestone Stadium should be quite the spectacle.
The team at AG Design laid 600 tons of sand down to provide natural drainage and a firm base for our field. The field has also been laser-leveled to ensure that it is completely flat and level. In addition, a new drainage system has been installed to keep the field in better playing condition throughout the season here in Ohio, as well as a new irrigation system to keep the field healthy when the water doesn’t come down naturally.
If you have seen the field at Firestone Stadium in the past, it may have seemed that the Racers were playing softball on a baseball field. The infield was enormous, and a breakaway fence was set up in the middle of the outfield for our softball games. This is no longer the case. The infield is now smaller, and much more proportionate to the dimensions of play for softball. Also, we will have a new, actual fence that will be six feet high, 200 feet away from the plate down the lines, and 220 feet to center field.
We have also had a warning track installed all the way around the field, which we did not have previously. Last week may have seen the most exciting progress made yet. After putting down a layer of top soil, the crew finally laid our new bluegrass sod! The field looks magnificent, and is getting closer and closer to being game-ready. With a new warning track and new sod, look for our amazing defensive outfielders to continue to make more and more incredible diving catches and home run robberies.
In addition to the playing field, Firestone Stadium has gotten a couple renovations itself. On Thanksgiving weekend, a group of amazing volunteers braved the 35 degree weather to come out and help install new red seats behind home plate. Also, some painting has been done, with everything that was previously green being painted gray. All of these efforts to make the stadium more visually appealing, and to make the playing field optimal for our players and fans.
The dedication of everyone involved in this “Field of Dreams” project has been incredible. From the remarkable crew at AG Design, braving the cold Ohio weather to continue to work and make progress on our field… to the volunteers, who spent their holiday weekend out in the cold to make Firestone Stadium look even better… to Joey Arrietta herself, for having such an amazing vision for our field, and for having the incredible dedication to stay involved and give daily updates on social media to all of the fans interested in knowing what’s going on. This has been a true team effort, and the results will be spectacular to see come June for the Racers, and even earlier for some of our amateur events that will be held at the BRAND NEW Firestone Stadium this spring.
WHAT ARE OUR PLAYERS UP TO?
02/22/2017 11:02 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
As I said last week, softball never sleeps. Just as we at the Racers are staying very busy trying to make the team better, the players themselves are also hard at work. Our players have taken on a variety of different responsibilities this offseason.
A popular option for Racer players this offseason is to spread their knowledge and gain coaching experience by helping out at a university in some capacity. Nearly a dozen Racers are coaching at NCAA university softball programs this college season.
Pitchers Rachele Fico, Laura Winter, and newly signed Emily Weiman are all coaching. Fico is an Assistant Coach at Georgia, Winter, the same at Murray State, and Weiman is a Graduate Assistant Coach at East Carolina University.
As for our position players: outfielder Shellie Robinson is an Assistant Coach at Division II school North Greenville University, Cassie Tysarczyk is a Volunteer Assistant at the University of Houston, and infielders Ashley Thomas and Sandra Simmons are assistants at Belmont and Kentucky, respectively.
The offseason often provides our players the opportunity to return to their own alma mater to coach. This is the case for All-NPF catcher Griffin Joiner, who is a Graduate Assistant at her alma mater of Kentucky, along with Simmons. Catcher Hannah Day is also back with her alma mater of Troy University. Outfielder Geri Ann Glasco is a Student Assistant with her alma mater of Oregon this season, and Jenny Gilbert is an Assistant Coach at alma mater Ball State University. All-NPF third baseman Kelley Montalvo actually returned to the high school that she attended, and is now coaching and teaching at Pace High School in Florida.
Even our own Manager, Brian Levin, is coaching at the college level, as the Head Coach at Belmont. He is currently working alongside player Ashley Thomas. It will be very interesting to see our players going up against each other as coaches, as some of their teams will be facing each other this season, or already have (Glasco and Oregon getting the better of Joiner, Simmons and Kentucky for example).
Also, many players help out at softball clinics held throughout the year and around the country to continue to help young players grow. Racer players such as first baseman Sam Fischer, All-NPF outfielder Taylor Schlopy, second baseman Alex Hugo, and Rawlings Gold Glove Award winning outfielder A.J. Andrews are spending part of their offseason working at such clinics and providing private lessons to young softballers.
In addition to working clinics, camps, and giving private lessons, some of our players are continuing their schooling and training as well. For example, a typical week for Alex Hugo involves training for two hours in the morning (working out and hitting), going to class right afterwards until 3:30, working from 5:00 to 9:30 or 10:00 pm every night, and then finding time to work some clinics and camps on the weekend. A.J. Andrews is also going to school this offseason, working on getting her master’s degree from LSU.
Finally, multiple Racers will be taking their talents overseas before this year’s Racers season. NPF Rookie of the Year shortstop Sami Fagan, along with pitchers Jailyn Ford and Aimee Creger, will be heading to play in the Japan Women’s Softball League. Also, veteran pitcher Sarah Pauly will be playing in Italy.
No matter their official title with the school they are at, or whether they are teaching, playing, or working on their degree… our players are working hard and utilizing their knowledge and experience to help others get better. And in the process, they are staying involved in the game, learning, and making themselves better as well. The dedication of these young women is incredible, and will certainly prepare them well for an outstanding 2017 season with your Akron Racers! They have been working hard, and as Hugo said, she is “really excited to get to Akron and play some ball!” Be sure to grab your tickets today!
SOFTBALL NEVER SLEEPS
02/15/2017 10:56 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
It may still be winter, but the Racers and the NPF have been as busy as ever preparing for the upcoming season. Let me highlight what has been happening in the offseason thus far:
Racers’ outfielder A.J. Andrews continues to be recognized for her accomplishment of becoming the first woman EVER to receive a Rawlings Gold Glove Award. After being named the winner at the annual National Professional Fastpitch Awards Banquet, Andrews was recognized by the Racers at a reception at the Summit County Softball Hall of Fame, by the Cleveland Indians before a game in September, and even attended the Rawlings Gold Glove Award dinner in New York alongside some of the best players in the MLB.
The Racers announced last month that we have signed third-year pitcher Emily Weiman, formerly of the Pennsylvania Rebellion. The 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NPF Draft, Weiman will provide the Racers with another arm that will fit right into the 2017 Racers’ “recipe for success” of “getting the ball into the hands of our defense,” as GM Joey Arrietta explained. The former N.C. State Wolfpack-er boasts a 2.94 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, and only 1 HR per 8.58 innings pitched in her two season NPF career.
In addition to signing Weiman, the Racers’ front office has been busy working to resign key players from last season’s squad. Also, we have been very active in scouting prospects for the upcoming NPF Draft. Stay tuned for updates regarding the draft date, as well as signings and roster moves to see which players will be sporting Racers’ red and black this season.
Owner/GM Joey Arrietta recently returned to Akron from Nashville, TN where she attended the annual NPF Winter Meetings. Representatives from every team were in attendance to discuss policy changes, rules approvals and adjustments, and the upcoming season schedule, among other things, for 2017. To summarize the results of this year’s meetings… the team salary cap and the maximum number of players allowed on the roster both increased. A minimum salary for player contracts was established. All bats used must be from NPF-approved suppliers. Also, pitching rules are now modeled more after that of the WBSC than the NCAA.
And finally… the 2017 Racers’ schedule has been announced! In addition to the 24 games against NPF opponents, the Racers’ schedule is highlighted by three exhibition games against the Canadian National Team (two being a doubleheader), here at Firestone Stadium. After beginning the season on an 11-game road trip, Akron will have their home opener Friday June 23rd against the USSSA Pride. The Racers’ will battle the Pride, the Chicago Bandits, the Scrapyard Dawgs, and the newly-named Texas Charge for the NPF Championship.
Single game tickets are now on sale! Be sure to check out all of our awesome ticket options on our website. Stay tuned for announcements regarding promotions and other news for the upcoming season. Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and check back for a new blog post every Wednesday for all your Racers news!
Thank you for reading, and GO RACERS!
NEW YEAR, NEW INTERNS: LAURA
02/08/2017 11:09 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Hello again Racers fans!
The final person that I would like to introduce to you is our new Social Media Intern, Laura Wheeler.
Laura is currently a senior at Kent State University, and plans to graduate in May with a Computer Science degree.
Upon graduation, however, Laura hopes to get involved in the field of social media and marketing. She hopes to become a brand manager for a sports team or other company.
In addition to school and the internship, Laura works at The Twisted Olive restaurant in North Canton, where she is from. She graduated from North Canton Hoover High School in 2011.
Laura is a huge sports fan. She loves basketball and volleyball, both of which she played in school.
As the Social Media Intern, Laura’s goal is to increase the number of followers that the Racers have on their social media sites, and enhance the interaction with followers and fans.
Be sure to keep up with Laura and the Akron Racers on all of our social media pages! Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
NEW YEAR, NEW INTERNS!: MEG
02/01/2017 10:59 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Hey Racers fans!
The next person I want to introduce to you is Meg O’Gorman. Meg will be the Amateur Events Intern for the Racers this spring.
Meg is from Cleveland, and is currently a junior at The University of Mount Union, where she is studying Sport Business with a minor in Exercise Science.
She is a sister of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, where she was responsible for planning events for her chapter.
She was a three year letter winner at Holy Name High School in softball, also playing travel softball for ten years.
In addition to softball, Meg played club soccer for eight years, and was also on a competitive team for dance.
Meg is very excited to have the opportunity to work with some of the events that she once played in.
Be sure to check out the amateur events and multitude of tournaments put on by the Racers at Firestone Stadium and the surrounding area this spring!
And of course…
NEW YEAR, NEW INTERNS!: DAWN
01/25/2017 11:00 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
I’m happy to introduce to you the new Promotions Intern for the spring, Dawn Ceccardi.
Dawn is currently a junior at The University of Akron where she is majoring in Organizational Supervision with a Marketing minor, after starting out in Nursing.
The past two years, Dawn has been working at Victoria’s Secret as a Sales Specialist. Also, whenever she has time around work and a full workload of classes, she coaches soccer at Kent Middle School.
She says that sports have always been a part of her life, and she looks forward to gaining experience in the sports field working in promotions with a professional sports team.
Right now, Dawn is considering two main career paths once she gets her degree. She would like to either continue her career at Victoria’s Secret in a corporate marketing role, or continue to utilize her passion for athletics in the field of sports marketing.
When she isn’t staying busy furthering her knowledge and career potential through school, work, and internships… Dawn enjoys shopping, working out daily, and traveling (recently visiting Puerto Rico).
As the Promotions intern, Dawn’s goal is to make sure that fans have a great time when they come to the ballpark, and are eager to come back. As she states, “It’s all about the experience... having fun!”
Be sure to come out to Firestone Stadium this season to check out some of Dawn’s awesome ideas, as well as a pretty darn good softball team!
NEW YEAR, NEW INTERNS!: A.J.
01/18/2017 11:31 AM - A.J. Fagerlin
Hello Akron Racers fans!
My name is A.J. Fagerlin (great Racers first name, isn’t it?!) and I am the new Media/PR intern for this spring. I am very grateful for the opportunity, and super excited to be part of the Racers team!
I am currently a junior at The University of Akron majoring in Sports Management. When I am finished with school I hope to go into sports journalism, making this internship a perfect opportunity for me.
I graduated from Tallmadge High School in 2014, and have been at Akron ever since. I have worked throughout high school and college at Seven Grains Natural Market in Tallmadge, and the past two baseball seasons I have also worked at Canal Park with the Akron RubberDucks in the Fun Zone.
I am truly a sports fanatic, which explains my desire to go into the field of sports media. I love playing and watching pretty much all sports. I played baseball in high school, and I am currently on the Club Golf team at The University of Akron. I can name pretty much every player in the NBA and NFL, and I even go to NASCAR races twice a year. I love to golf and play basketball with my friends, and also talk and write about sports. I am a true Northeast Ohio sports fan. Browns, Cavs, Indians… and of course, the Racers.
I am looking forward to this great opportunity to learn, work hard, and have fun as part of such an amazing organization. The Racers say, “It’s More Than a Game… It’s an Experience.” I look forward to benefiting from the experience myself, while helping provide the fan with the greatest experience that they could imagine.
Stay tuned for more blog posts in the near future…
and GO RACERS!
COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
12/23/2016 9:58 AM - Akron Racers
As we approach the end of the year and the holiday season, it’s time to count our many blessings and just how fortunate we are. The Akron Racers family has so much to be thankful for this season.
It all starts with you, our fans, without you we would not have been able to celebrate our 15th Season of Play this past summer. Without you, the Racers could not continue on this incredible journey that started way back in 1999. For that, words could never fully express our thanks.
Next are the many players, coaches and personnel that have made the Racers’ dream a reality. More than 165 extremely talented players have donned the Racers’ red, black & silver since 1999. Many of those players showed just what it means to be a Racer when they returned to Akron to help celebrate our 15th Season of Play this past July. We thank each and every one of our former players that have had their own unique impact on defining the Akron Racers.
As much as 2016 was about honoring the past and how far the Racers have come in their amazing voyage since 1999, the 23 phenomenal athletes that made up this past season’s edition of the Racers put on exhilarating performances throughout the summer that thrilled us all and secured a very bright future for our program. The list is impressive. A.J. Andrews’ highlight reel catches that snagged her the first Rawlings Gold Glove ever awarded to a female softball player; the outstanding play of Sami Fagan earning her the first NPF Rookie of the Year in Racer franchise history; Kelley Montalvo’s stellar defense which not only made her a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove, but also earned a third consecutive All-NPF award; Taylor Schlopy’s record setting season in which she became the franchise leader in runs (157) and hits (195) and netted her the All-NPF centerfielder honor; Griffin Joiner was named the All-NPF catcher after a fantastic defensive season behind the plate. And then finally, to the entire Racers offense that broke the franchise record with 57 regular season home runs. The young but talented 2016 Racers team etched their names in now the completed 15th volume of the Akron Racers record book.
Our blessings of the past are just the beginning, as renovations to Firestone Stadium have begun. Everything from fresh paint to our newly built “Field of Dreams” is underway. We are eagerly awaiting the ground-breaking of our new clubhouse and training facility that will revolutionize Firestone Stadium. All of which is set to unfold in 2017. So fans, the future is even more exciting than the past for the Racers.
We here at the Akron Racers have so much to be thankful for this holiday season and it all starts with you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you and we hope you have the most wonderful holiday season.
As winter sets in, I get set to leave.
12/12/2016 12:30 PM - Teahl Rice
Interning with the Akron Racers has proven to be one of my favorite endeavors thus far in my career. I've met wonderful people and accumulated professional contacts I look forward to keeping up with.
I've gained experience in so many different aspects of Public Relations, such as creating content for digital media and blogs, analyzing digital media and website analytics, and creating visually stimulating graphics. Besides the work experience I loved the envirnoment the Racers brought to Firestone Stadium.
I've got one semester left at Kent State University and I'll be graduating in May. As of now I am looking for jobs in Columbus, but I'm open to the idea of relocating out of Ohio. I've got several interviews set up over winter break, and I'm so exicted for the opportunities each one of them provides. I'm hoping to become an account executive working in a variety of fields such as healthcare, sports or the travel and recreation industry.
Thank you for everything Akron Racers, it's been a blast!
Find motivation within yourself and through others
12/10/2016 12:00 PM - Teahl Rice
Read about how reigning NPF Rookie of the Year and Akron Racers shortstop Sami Fagan stays focused, gets prepared, works hard and what that leads to!
-How do you prepare before a game? - I prepare for a game by getting good night’s sleep the night before and eating healthy all week leading up to the game. The morning of a game I make sure I have a good breakfast and a satisfying pre-game meal. I also drink a lot of coffee. The caffeine helps me focus and play better.
-What's the most important thing to know about off-season training? - The most important thing to know about off-season training is that you shouldn't put it off. A lot of people take too much time off and then find it more difficult to get back into training mode. Time off is important, but once your body is fully rested, get back into training mode.
-How do you stay focused? - I stay focused by thinking about softball every day and surrounding myself with motivated people. It's easy to stay focused because I love to play softball.
-How did you end up being a professional softball player? - I ended up being a professional softball player by working hard and setting goals for myself. By working hard to achieve the goals, I am able to play at the professional level.
-Is it easy to balance softball and college? - It was not easy to balance softball and college for me. I would rather do extra hitting and fielding then spend time studying. I forced myself to schedule tutors so that I would be required to spend time on my studies, but I would much rather be playing softball.
-What was it like being on travel teams? - Travel ball was a lot of fun. It wasn't hard to balance middle school and high school with softball because I had parents that were strict on me with getting good grades. If I didn't keep my grades up then I had to miss practice and games so I made sure to get all A's.
-Did you sacrifice a lot to be in the spot you're in now? - I don't feel like I sacrificed a lot because it has always been fun for me to work hard to get better. It wasn't a big deal if I couldn't do things that my friends that didn't play sports did, because I wanted to play softball instead anyways.
-Is there something you wish you would have been told when you started this journey? - No, I think that I had the right mentors growing up that helped me get to where I am on this journey.
-What do you plan to do after your softball career is over? - I plan on coaching at a high level.
Have you ever been motivated?
12/03/2016 1:00 PM - Teahl Rice
This week we asked pitcher Jailyn Ford to dive into what helped her prepare to be the softball player she is today. See what she had to say!
· How do you prepare before a game?
- I don’t do a lot to prepare for a game. I typically just get dressed, put my hair up into a ponytail, put on my black headband and wait patiently until it’s time to warm up. I like to be a part of the pre-game atmosphere and listen to the locker room music or chat with someone beside me, I don’t like to close myself off by sticking in earphones.
· What’s the most important thing to know about off-season training?
- I think it’s important to rest and recover especially after a tough season(s) of training. Once your body has had a bit of a break, it’s time to prepare for the next season. The off-season, in my opinion, is the most important season of them all because it’s what prepares you for the three or six or nine month season ahead of you. I’ve always been a fan of “championships aren’t won in the Spring, they’re won in the off-season” mentality because if you don’t prepare your body and mind for the road ahead, then you’ll never make it through a 60 game season.
· How do you stay focused?
- During the game, I stay focused by taking a deep breath. When I would hit in college, I would always focus on a bat weight sticker, take a deep breath in, exhale, and then step into the box. When I’m on the mound, I usually wait until I receive the signal either from the coach or the catcher, step on the mound, and then take a deep breath before throwing the pitch. This allows me to clear my head of the pitch before (whether it was good or bad), and help me focus on the task and the play ahead of me.
· How did you end up being a professional softball player?
- A lot of hard work and someone always believing that I had talent within me. I remember growing up and my classmates always telling me that when I grew up I’d be a star in college, member of the USA Team, on the front of Sports Illustrated, and playing professionally in the “big leagues”. I would always laugh and say how a little girl from a little town would never, but it gave me something to strive for. I worked hard in the backyard with my dad (even on nights that I didn’t want to), a travel coach took a chance on me and gave me exposure to play in front of college coaches. I found a university that wanted me to continue that dream. Then a coaching staff that would help me achieve that dream. And last April as I sat and watched my name being called third overall in the NPF Draft, I knew there was someone else out there that believed in my talent and helped me achieve that success that my childhood classmates saw in me. I’m not a member of the USA Team and I’ve never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but that just gives me more goals to go after now.
· Is it easy to balance softball and college?
- At first it was very difficult because you’re not used to the time management needed to balance softball, academics, meetings, class, tutors, study hall, treatment times and finding a time to eat somewhere in between. It can be overwhelming at first, especially if it’s something you are new to and haven’t done in the past. Once you figure out a routine and schedule, it becomes much easier to balance it all. By the end of my first year, I started to understand the basics and it helped be become more successful both on and off the field.
· What was it like being on travel teams in middle school and high school? Was it hard to balance?
- I enjoyed it a ton because I always got to meet new people from all over the state of Virginia. I also got to play with some of my opponents in high school so it was fun to be able to be on the same travel team and then play against them during our high school district games. It was sometimes very hard to balance because a lot of my weekends were spent traveling up and down the east coast to play softball. I would be exhausted by the time I got back home so it would be tough to get up at 7:00 am the next morning for school. Plus to try and do homework assignments on the road became tough, but it showed me a glimpse of what it would be like to play in college and have to travel every weekend.
· Did you sacrifice a lot to be in the spot you’re in now?
- I had to give up a lot of social gatherings and time with friends especially in high school. I missed a lot of my homecoming dances and friend’s birthday parties, but I’ve always put softball first and without that I’m not sure I’d be where I am today. Softball has become such an integral part of not only my life, but some of my family and friends too that it would be difficult to imagine living a life without it.
· Is there something you wish you would have been told when you started this journey?
- Not at all. I think an intriguing part of this game is the fact that we never know what’s going to happen on any given day. I think one of the motivating factors for me was, and still is, the unknown of what tomorrow brings and what is waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. If I had known some of the stuff I know now, it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable as it has been to learn and grow each and every day.
· What do you plan to do after your softball career is over?
- Like I said earlier, it would be difficult to imagine a life without softball. I’d love to stay involved with the sport however possible. Whether it’s coaching little girls and teaching them how to pitch, coaching a travel/high school/college team, or even running my own batting facility. However, after I’m done playing, I may decide to hang up the cleats for good and work in another field. I like doing just about anything and enjoy new challenges or learning new fields so why not keep my options open right now and see where this path takes me.
Teach your daughter to be brave. Teach your player to be brave.
11/30/2016 10:00 AM - Teahl Rice
A brave player starts at the core. She has to feel brave, think she’s brave, and know she’s brave. A softball player shouldn’t have to question herself as she steps onto the field. She should be proud of who she is and what she’s doing. The definition of brave is “endure or face unpleasant conditions or behavior without showing fear.” Synonyms include intrepidity, fearlessness, boldness, daring, prowess, heroism, pluck, audacity, nerve, mettle and spunk. What is that certain quality we want to instill in our daughter that will make her brave when others cower?
- Challenge her to try new things, indulge her fears and turn them into positives.
- Point out real life role models and the fears and struggles they had to go through.
- Set an example. Let her know the fears you’ve had to overcome in order to be the person you are today.
- Let her know it’s okay to be afraid, but to reach out when she needs help or is struggling.
- In order to be brave you must be confident. Teach her that confidence walking onto a field will set the tone for bravery.
- Let her know it’s okay to be wrong and make mistakes. Often times we struggle with the fear of failure, but there is bravery in knowing that you might not succeed, yet you still try.