June is here, and yes that means that Summer is also here along with a relentless amount of rain in South Florida, but what it also means is that the time has come for me to engulf myself in the wonderful world of Women's College Softball. Yes, I know. I get made fun of for watching women's softball all the time, but when the Women's College World Series rolls around, I can't help myself. This stuff is entertaining people!
Besides the fact that I still haven't grasped the concept of being able to throw a ball underhand at about 65 mph, how many times can you watch an athlete wear skin tight pants and a shiny bow in their hair. I can't think of any unless Dennis Rodman conducting a publicity stunt counts. Aside from the entertaining aspects of the game, which involves more cheers and signature handshakes that a patty-cake competition at recess, I was extremely impressed by one of the teams in the WCWS this season.
Now I am a die hard Gator fan of any sport, so you know there is no bias in my message when I tell you that I am talking about the Georgia Bulldogs softball team and the way these ladies carried themselves...
This season was the Bulldogs' first appearance in the WCWS, and even though they were knocked out by the eventual 2009 Champion Washington Huskies, I think every athletic organization from little league to the professionals can learn from these Lady Bulldogs. These girls played with a certain panache which carried over to their performance on the field.
I couldn't help but not root for these girls and when I was watching their second game in one day against the Huskies, I found myself feeling bad for them when the score was 5-0 in their opponents favor, until I realized that they didn't feel bad for themselves. They were all still smiling, carrying on with their cheers like normal and joking around with eachother. If were to turn on the game and a score was not provided for me, I would have thought these ladies in red were winning 10-0 in the championship game, yet their season was about to come to and end. But instead of hanging their heads and giving up, they continued to cheer on their teammates and most important of all, they continued to enjoy the game they love to play for one last time this season. I think that is a concept that has been lost in our sport for so long and I congratulate them on bringing it back. Every single athlete, no matter how much money they make, started playing the game they are currently involved in because they found it to be fun.
I played baseball up until I graduated from high school and my biggest regret was not enjoying the game more as I was always worried about not messing up. Now a lot of that has to do with the coaches I had, so I would like to commend, Lu Harris-Champer, the head coach of the Lady Bulldogs for creating at enviting atmosphere for these girls to play in and a mentality that will help them deal with all the hardships that life has to offer. I would also like to point out one player on the team in general who seemed to be the team catalyst. The shortstop, Kristin Schnake, had more energy in her than any softball player I have ever seen and the team seemed to feed off of that. I am not exaggerating when I say that she had a smile on her face everytime the camera showed her, whether it was her homerun that helped the Bulldogs force another game against Washington, or she was up to bat with an 0-2 count and her team was losing. She was having a great time, she showed it and she still performed well on the field.
And with as much crap as us guys give girls about being emotional and catty, I was extremely impressed with the mental attitude displayed by not only the Georgia Bulldogs softball team but all the teams in the College World Series. Even after a loss, the teams would always shake hands and they still had a cheer to honor what they had accomplished that season or to congratulate the other team. I hate to say it, but it's apparent that 95 percent of paid professionals which are supposed to be grown men could learn from these young ladies that are still in school about how to act like a true professional.
Meanwhile, we all continue praise the wondrous talents of an NBA MVP who can't even shake his opponents' hand after losing a series. We follow NFL receivers in awe who can do nothing but taunt their opponents after doing their job and we continue to watch and cheer for MLB players which have disgraced themselves and the game by taking steroids. So go ahead, make fun of me for watching women's softball, but at least I am following athletes who respect and have fun playing the game they have dedicated their whole life to.
I would also like to congratulate the Washington Huskies for winning their first Softball championship and my Lady Gators for reaching their first softball championship series and on a record setting season.