For the first time in eight years, the northwest will have a girl’s softball team compete in the BC Summer Games, and the girls are excited.
Boys have had a Summer Games team for the last few seasons, and now girls are joining them on the field for the regional tryouts of the Summer Games softball teams.
For the past three weeks, youth 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.
Among them is Brenna Menz, a 14 year old pitcher from Terrace who competed with a team of U14 boys in provincials last July. That team wonsilver in Barriere, competing in 35 to 40 degree heat.
As Menz ties out for Summer Games, if she makes the team it will be her first time playing with just girls, she said.
“Having this opportunity, that we can play, not with the boys team, but we can play on our own, is an amazing experience,” said Menz. “It’s going to be really fun.”
Excited to make new friendships, she says she expects a girls-only team to air a new dynamic.
“Definitely there’s a different energy in the air,” she said. “They play pretty tough and they have chants and stuff, so we’ll definitely come up with a few chants for our team.”
And Menz says she’s also happy that the Summer Games tryouts extend the softball season by a bit more than a month.
“Our softball season is usually only two months, but we started the end of March instead of in May,” said Menz, and though it will be tough ball against the southern teams who play longer in the year, Menz is eager.
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.
– With files from Jackie Lieuwen