A young Houston athlete is vying for a chance to compete in the BC Summer Games with a girls’ softball team from the northwest — the first of its kind in eight years.
Girls from across the region — including Prince Rupert, Terrace, Houston, Smithers, Moricetown and Hazelton — have been travelling to Terrace, where they have been drilling and sharpening up their skills, in hopes of making the team.
Houston’s Abbi Henderson is hoping to get picked for first base. The 14-year-old athlete has only been able to make it to one of the Terrace training sessions so far, since she has a part-time job on weekends. But she said she planned to train on April 12 at a practice in Smithers.
She has also travelled to Prince Rupert to throw the ball around with her friend Avery Ryan, who is also trying out for the team.
Henderson plays in the mixed Houston Minor Softball league in the spring, and the sport has always been a part of her life. “I grew up around the field,” she said, adding that her parents play softball.
The level of play is high among the girls competing for a spot on the northwest team, but the young athlete remains undaunted. “It’s definitely a bit harder than what I’ve done before,” he said. “But it’s not something that I’m not capable of.”
She said that spirits are high among the girls taking part in tryouts. “They all seem really nice and open, and encouraging too,” she said.
The team is practising every weekend until the BC Summer Games, which take place July 19-22 in Cowichan. Geoff Watt, the team’s head coach, said their expectations for the first competition were modest, and that he’s more concerned with developing his players than putting pressure on them to win.
After the first few practices, Watt said he’s 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 Matthew Allen, The Northern View