Softball's more than just the regular team
By Melanie Murray
special to the Sports Information department
Writing new lyrics for The Little Mermaid song, "Part of Your World," sleeping in the locker room, jumping into an outside pool at a hotel in Georgia in cold, rainy weather, and waking up at are all out of the ordinary. While many people could probably not relate to these activities, they are unique experiences that are shared by a determined, dedicated and diligent group.
For some, waking up at in the morning sounds like an impossible feat. Others might never consider having a slumber party in a locker room. Still others could never imagine jumping into a pool in cold, rainy weather, or spending an hour creating new lyrics for a legendary Disney song. For members of the Bluffton College Softball Team, however, it is all a reality.
The softball team is under the direction of Coach Holly Spann. Spann, a former softball player for Bluffton College and a 1996 graduate of Bluffton College , is currently experiencing her first year as the coach of the softball team. The team, comprised of seventeen women, goes through rigorous practices every week. It is preparing for the 2004 softball season which begins with the softball games in Florida during Spring Break. While the players are working hard to impress their coach, they also want to improve their record. Last year, at the end of the season, they finished last in their conference.
This year, a spirit of confidence hovers over the teammates. They have faith in their abilities and they feel prepared to meet any challenges. Many of the teammates give much credit to Coach Spann. One of the co-captains on the team, Amber Fitzwater, is very appreciative of all the work that Coach Spann has put into the team.
"Where haven't we improved? We've gained so much knowledge with Coach Spann," she says.
Several other teammates echo this sentiment. They see great improvement and they are very grateful for Spann's instruction. Kate Barringer, a sophomore double majoring in Communication and Sports Management, describes the powerful influence which Spann has had upon the softball team.
"I think we've improved in game situations because Coach knows a lot about the game. She's able to help us know what to do in different situations and how to react better. She's improved our hitting capabilities and the way we throw and our double plays," she says.
While a good relationship between the coach and the team is essential, an inherent love of the game is also required in order to produce an efficient and motivated team. The Bluffton College Softball Team is certainly not lacking in its love of the game. Numerous people on the team have played softball since elementary school. Additionally, they all wake up at in order to practice. Moreover, they go to bed early at night so that they are able to get up early in the morning. The softball team has early practices because it shares the gym with other athletic teams and the early morning time slot was the most sensible solution. Even though Coach Spann knows that the early practices have been somewhat difficult for the softball players, she also believes that the early practices have helped them in some ways.
"At first, they were very tired, but now they've adjusted. They can get more done during the day," she says.
While the early practices assist in alleviating some of the problems associated with lack of time, they cannot completely solve them all. Even though most of the members of the softball team are quite willing to deal with the time constraints which the sport places daily on their lives, the immense amount of time taken up by the sport has proved to be too much for some. For example, Jessica Rosengarten, a pitcher from last year, who had played softball since the fourth grade, decided not to play softball this year.
"It was more time than I was able to give," she says.
Despite the time constraints, the team continues to persevere. Each person on the team has her own goals for the season and Coach Spann also has some goals for the season. She summarizes her goals in a clear, concise manner.
"To be successful at the plate, to be a contender at the conference and to grow as individuals off and on the field," she says.
The process of growing as individuals has already begun. The softball players talk about their team as if they were talking about their family. They have a lot of fun together and they act as a support system for each other. Michelle Metzger, a sophomore majoring in Sports Management, discusses the closeness of the group.
"I know if I need something, there's always someone I can go to. I know they are there to help me through whatever I am going through," she says.
From writing new lyrics to a Disney song to improving their game strategies, the members of the softball team enjoy a wide variety of activities. They try to incorporate both fun and seriousness while working hard to better themselves. Their close friendships bring strength to their team and also assist in developing integrity, character and confidence. Their lyrics for the song, especially the last few lines, display the ever-increasing sense of community among the teammates.
"Now we can hit, now we can bunt, for our coach no longer a hunt surviving each day, doing it Spann's way taking care of the ball!"