If you have followed this blog, you know what a big fan I am of Michele Smith. Thanks to her connection with Little League, I have listened to and witnessed first-hand her respect for the game of softball and for the young athletes who play.
Little League Inc has a nice article this month touching on the clinics she has been speaking at around the country, as well as Olympic softball and its future.
Michele Smith is one of the first softball superstars, IMO, along with Lisa Fernandez and Dot Richardson and Michelle Granger, and let's throw in Debbie Doom, too. Rising up from the increased awareness and support of collegiate and Olympic softball, they were proficient role models in a wonderful team sport that I strained to find any information about. There was no internet and only the early days of dedicated sports networks...I remember reading about them and hearing stories from California softball players, but NEVER having had the chance to see them with my own two eyes.
Today, the web gives us real-time scoring, photos, videos and live broadcasts of softball throughout the year. We have the opportunity to watch dedicated players every August in the Little League Softball World Series on ESPN2, as well as at ballfields across the nation. We can reach out via email and attend softball clinics. We can be spectators at one of the Bound 4 Beijing Tour stops that the Olympic Softball team will make around the country this spring and summer (I already have my tix for the July 8 visit to Portland).
The foundation for success and recognition of girls' softball begins with the likes of Michele, her teammates and the community of coaches, umpires and especially parents, who make the countless practices, games, and tournaments come together. Thanks, Michele, and all of you who play softball!