For the first time in eight years, the northwest coast will have a girl’s softball team compete in the BC Summer Games.
For the past three weeks, girls from Prince Rupert, Terrace, Houston, Smithers, Moricetown and Hazelton have been traveling to Terrace where they have been drilling and sharpening up their skills, in hopes of making the team.
Amongst them is fourteen-year-old Rupertite Avery Ryan, a young ball players who says she was raised on the diamond.
The young shortstop and first baseman said baseball has always been her favourite sport, but she’s never had a chance to play on an all-girls team due to lack of female players locally. After going to some of the team’s practices, she is excited by the prospect of playing the game she loves with her peers.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Avery Ryan. “I haven’t had a chance to play on an all-girls team so I this would be a great opportunity.”
Ryan admits that the practices were difficult for her at the beginning, but after returning for a few, she said she has adjusted to the level of athleticism other players have.
Most importantly, she said there is a sense of camaraderie between the players that she enjoys just as much as competing.
“It feels like I’m a part of an actual team,” she said. “I feel like I can be more open and show them what I’m actually capable of.”
The team is practicing every weekend until the BC Summer Games, which take place from July 19-22 in Cowichan. Geoff Watt, the team’s head coach said their expectation for their first competition were modest, and that he is more concerned with developing his players than putting pressure on his players to win.
After the first few practices, Watt said he is encouraged by their potential.
“We’re just going to go and try to compete and have fun,” he said. “If we can compete with girls who practice ten months out of the year that’s great.”
Watt lamented the fact that the northwest hasn’t had a regional girls softball team for so long, a situation caused both by lack of players and an emphasis on the boys team. He has coached on the zone 7 boys team for the past four years, and has shifted his focus to the girls in hopes of building a sustainable program.
“We’re trying to revitalize the girls games,” he said. “It’s all baby steps, but let’s try to bring the program back to where it used to be.”
Watt said the team will continue to hold practices until he selects the final roster that will travel to the games. There will be an open practice for girls born from 2002-2003 at the Terrace Arena on April 8 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. The next tryout takes place at the Smithers Arena on April 14 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.