By Maren Angus
Dodger Stadium, the third-oldest Major League Ballpark in America, normally houses baseball but for two days in January it was home for softball.
“Last year we had about two girls sign up for the Dodgers’ Youth Camp Series,” said Shawna Wright, President of Softball University. “They care what boys think so they weren’t giving it everything, they weren’t talking or going all out. So we asked for a girl’s day.”
Girl’s Day turned into a weekend and the Dodgers gave Wright the green light. There were 70 athletes between the ages of nine and 16 who participated in the camp and learned from some top talent.
Wright (Washington) along with her co-workers Courtney Gano (Washington) and Taryn Smith (Washington) teamed up with Southern California’s Garciaparra Baseball Group instructors Megan Hair (Michigan State), Brigette Del Ponte (Arizona) and Bianca Mejia (Long Island), Dodgers Ball Girls Amy Moore (Pacific) and Christina Zambrana (Arizona State) took over the baseball diamond and turned into a massive softball field.
“These girls got to work with some pretty cool people and then they got to meet Lisa Fernandez on top of it,” said Wright. “She brought her Gold Medals and let the girls hold them and even put them on!”
The campers were divided into age groups and participated in infield, outfield and hitting drills. Also included in the camp was a tour of the facilities from the clubhouse to the trophy hallway. They got to hit in the batting cages and were treated like big leaguers for the day.
“We got to use the dirt which was really cool except home plate,” said Wright. “Last year we couldn’t even touch the dirt so it was so cute watching all the girls walking around in a cloud of dust. They were so pumped to be on the dirt at Dodger Stadium that they made the most of it. Maybe next year we can use the plate.”
Dodgers’ prospects Dustin May, Melvin Jimenez, Keibert Ruiz and Jacob Amaya also helped with the softball camp.
“I think it was cool for the girls to see the similarities between what the baseball players were taught and what we were teaching,” said Wright. “Except for when the girls had a bullpen session and threw off the mound.”
Softball University has met with a few other teams about doing camps like this one but as of now, the Dodgers are the only ones who have hosted it.
“It’s important for these kids to come in and get this kind of experience. It helps gets them excited about doing something outdoors instead of sitting at home, look at their phones,” said Wright. “Softball is growing, one day we could play in a stadium that big, who knows?”