Girl Power

Young softball players display sportsmanship and attitude as they take in camp experience

The fourth through sixth grade group, as well as the t-ball players gather after the Softball Skills Camp at Lady Dragons field on Monday. The campers are learning all about basic fundamentals, as well as positive sportsmanship. Front row, left to right are Meredith Smyth, Allyx Hoden, Peyton Matson and Alexis Welch. Back row, left to right are Abby Darr, Nakita Nelson, Kendall Skerda, Gabby Hodak and Taylor Bailey.

“We’re VIP – Very Important Players.”

That was the mantra during the relay races that ended the first session of the Softball Skills Camp on Monday at Lady Dragons Field.

They’re young, they’re learning and yes, they have a little bit of an attitude. And they were happy to share those thoughts with ‘the guy from the paper.’

Just call it girl power.

“Boys think we’re softer than them, but we’re not,” said camper Nakita Nelson about what it means to play like a girl. “We’re tough, we’re not afraid to get hit and we don’t cry when we do.”

For as much fun as the kids are having, their counselors, which include some of the current Lady Dragons, are getting a lot out of it as well, and are eager to teach them.

“They like to listen, so you know that they are going to come out here and try their hardest,” said Alix Lytle.

On this particular day (the camp runs through Wednesday), the focus was on a variety of hitting drills, including hitting off a tee, as well as hitting fastballs and change-ups.

Some knew the difference between the two pitches and others didn’t, but they were learning. And they were having fun doing it.

“Hitting the ball,” said camper Kendall Skerda about her favorite part of the camp. “The ball goes far, that’s fun and it’s a good feeling.”

The campers have all different types of experience levels. For some of the players that are new to the game, the joy that came from learning something new was evident.

“Just learning how to play softball, because I’m just a beginner,” said Gabby Hodak about her favorite part of the camp.

And no matter the experience level, they all supported each other. The value of good sportsmanship was something that the camp counselors were hoping to pass on, and, judging by the actions of the younger girls and their responses, they have succeeded.

“It’s about being nice to others and not talking bad when someone doesn’t do well,” Hodak said.

Added camper Taylor Bailey: “I just tell people how well they’re doing and they do the same for me.”

Bailey also enjoyed the improvement of her fellow campers. In fact, she said that was her favorite part.

“Just seeing all the other people and how well they’re doing, it’s great,” she said.

Nelson, one of the most vocal campers, echoed many of those same thoughts about sportsmanship. “If someone strikes out, you don’t need to make fun of them, but help them learn,” she said.

The camp counselors noticed the positive attitude of the campers, as well as expressing how much fun it is to watch them learn.

“Just to see what they can do, to see what the future looks like,” said Ellee Irwin, who was helping out for the first time on Monday.

And that future is bright and filled with joy and a love of the game.

“Running hard, playing hard, pitching hard,” Skerda said.

That pretty much sums up these youngsters. They play like girls, and that’s a great, great thing.