By Datti Jinkiri
Play ball! Clinton softball is back in action! 144 girls ranging in age from six to 14 are playing in the Clinton Girls Softball Association (CGSA) this spring. The season began on April 13th and will end on May 10th, with games played every Tuesday and Thursday.
12 teams are playing in the CGSA this spring. These teams are coached by volunteer head coaches and volunteer assistant coaches who give much of their time and effort to the players. Often, these coaches are parents of players, giving them an added vested interest in the league. Emily Andrews is one of these faithful volunteers, as she is coaches an eight-and-under (8U) team while serving as the president of the CGSA board.
“The game of softball was a huge part of making me who I am today, and I want to pass along those same values to every single girl who passes through our softball program,” Andrews said. “Providing the girls a quality softball experience not only teaches them the game of softball, but it also teaches them important life lessons such as teamwork and good sportsmanship.”
Clinton has been a mainstay among the top metro cities for youth sports, with softball, soccer, and baseball leagues and tournaments often being played at Traceway Park. The Clinton Parks and Recreation Department has been a key part of keeping these leagues at a high quality. According to Andrews, the Clinton Parks and Recreation Department has a good working relationship with the CGSA. The department maintains the league’s ball fields and gives the girls a top notch facility to play in.
In addition, the CGSA was able to purchase new jerseys, tees, balls, and catcher equipment for the players this season. The money was raised through fundraising efforts at tournaments and registration fees. This is another factor in making the experience a positive one for the players.
As alluded to before, the coaches in the league also play a big role in their players’ softball experience. Andrews’ assistant coach, Kat Haver, is the vice president of the CGSA board and has a daughter on the 8U team.
“My number one motivation is my daughter, Kingsleigh, and her love and joy for the game,” Haver stated. “I find the greatest joy in watching the newcomers and even the returning players fall more and more in love with the game as they progress.”
For 6U head coach Jordy Andersen, the lifelong impact of the game of softball is what brings him to the park every week.
“What motivates me to coach these girls is knowing that they will be coached correctly and knowing the life lessons they will begin learning,” Andersen said. “These are lessons that will carry them throughout their individual lives on and off the field.”
Fostering the growth of players is something that youth softball leagues around the country aspire to do. Andrews wants the same thing for the CGSA. Her desire is for the league to continue to develop young players and move them on to travel softball teams, high school softball teams, and eventually college softball teams.
“Rec is the foundation of creating great travel ball teams,” she stated. “Great rec coaches have the ability to kindle a passion in the girls’ spirits that could take them through travel ball and eventually make them into great high school and even college level players. I hope to build our program up into one that creates great players.”