Kids Sports News Network

Making the Case for Girls Softball

Girls Softball1

Despite academic and athletic success, the amazing talent of young female athletes often goes overlooked.  The lack of girls and attention to girls sports is the result of the sports themselves, the rules and regulations of these sports, and the media and fan support of the particular sports in which boys and girls participate.  Researchers have found that boys are more active than girls favoring the highly popular sports of basketball and football, but the media also tends to favor high risk sports that have historically banned girls from playing.  Girls report preferences for running and then walking.  Do we need to focus on making sport and other activities more attractive for girls?  Softball and baseball is a classic sport for teamwork with players taking turns at bat and team cooperation to tag players out.  While baseball, once America’s favorite past time, has fallen in popularity to football and basketball, baseball has been infused with new energy with international players for Japan and the Dominican Republic like Matsui, Daisuke and Tony Abreu.

Is it the sports to which girls are allowed to play?  Kathryn Johnston was the first girl to play Little League baseball passing as a boy when she joined the Kings Dairy team in Corning NY as “Tubby” in 1950.  When she told her coach she was a girl, he let her keep playing first base, however the following year the Tubby Rule was passed prohibiting girls from playing.  The rule stood for more than 20 years until the National Organization for Women successfully sued the LLWS.  Thus, the lack of girls in sports is the result of multiple factors.

Is it the rules put up around what sports girls can participate in and how they can play?  Does a smaller and thus faster pitched ball thrown overhand really make baseball that much more exciting than softball?  No, but the baseball games get screen time and thus the boys get all the recognition.  While the Little League World Series is comprised of nine different tournaments, five in baseball and four for girls softball, the 11-12 year old baseball tourneys receive the most air time on the ESPN family of networks.  While girls are allowed to play in the LLWS baseball divisions, there have only been 18 girls to play in the history of the LLWS.  It takes some standout skill to gain recognition, like Mo’ne Davis, 13 year old star of the Taney Dragones from Pennsylvania with her 70 mph fastball and pitching skills that single handedly shut out entire teams.

KSNN interviewed several amazing young female athletes who play softball with the California Ladyhawks.  They all exemplified the ideals of their sport both on and off the field.  Several of the coaches said they were inspired to start coaching not only out of their love of the sport but also out of love for their daughters and nieces.  Coaching definitely takes a lot time and hard work—recording videos, contacting coaches, making phone calls, returning emails, and writing letters.  The girls require a lot of follow up as well—making sure the student athlete is on good academic standing, making sure she’s taking the right courses and tests, and arranging recruiting trips.  President Jose Quezada said that in his 14 years of coaching he has learned to understand people’s feelings and emotions, respect everyone’s individuality and interact well with the public.  His advice to other coaches is to “treat the girls like if they were their own sisters or daughters.  Support them on and off the field.  Give them guidance in all aspects of life.”  His own daughter, Yvette Quezada after playing with the Ladyhawks has gone on to major in psychology at UCLA (class of 2015).  18U coach Rich St. Angelo started out his three daughters in rec ball and moved them to Rosemead High where they made into the Ladyhawks. With 6 years in rec ball and now 15 years with the Ladyhawks, he focuses on getting players college scholarships.  Robert Licon, Assistant 14U coach, focuses on “exposing them to good fundamentals and productive practings” helping them to “build good habits, such as sportsmanship, respecting their teammates, respecting coaches and officials at all times.”  He says that “through positive interactions and these skills, these young ladies can implement and transfer these lessons into life’s ups and downs, and can really grow as productive Student Athletes.”

As for the popularity of boys over girls sports, Ladyhawks President Quezada attributed it to the overall publicity for girls sports: “due to the stigma that boys sports are tougher and more competitive.  I feel that if people actually took the time to watch and engage they would be surprised to see that” softball is just as exciting.  For example, Ladyhawks 14U Coach Robert Licon helped coach his youngest daughter’s team winning the 8U Pony West Zone World Series in 2012.  They managed to build a record 48 wins and only 4 losses—extremely impressive.  And the icing on the cake was the 2012 World Series Champions!  The game itself is already exciting.  The solution is to get more people involved in girls sports—attendance and support is key.

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Author: Melanie Carbine

Melanie Carbine currently writes for several education blogs, vlogs about her travels, and teaches middle school in the DC Metro Area.

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