The CJ softball team knocked one out of the park May 8, as they spent Saturday afternoon volunteering their time to help young players improve their playing skills. About 120 young athletes in grades K-8 showed up in the inclement weather to get tips and instruction from the Lady Eagles.
"The girls did a great job working with the kids even in the wind and cold,” said Dee Bowling, CJ’s softball coach. “We were warming up inside right before the clinic, and then walked out the door. We saw kids everywhere. The turn-out was huge”
Bowling said that the clinic started out as favor to her friend, Doug Massie, the commissioner of Kettering’s KABC Little Leaguers. The idea was to show young girls some of the fundamentals of softball. Fifteen participants showed up the first year. The clinic has grown exponentially over the last two years and is now open to boys. This year also featured a two-hour coaches’ clinic with 25 attending.
“Dee is so well-received here, and the girls on her team were just great,” Massie said. “It was only 48 degrees out there, it was crazy. As cold as it was, not one of them complained. They were some of the sweetest girls you’d want to meet. CJ should be proud.
“I didn’t think the younger ones were going to show with the weather being so cold, but they did. It was great to see all the smiles and the fun they had. It was wonderful.”
Participants braving the weather quickly warmed up as they were split up into several groups and worked on batting, throwing, catching and rounding the bases. According to CJ junior and team captain, Lyndsey Diggs, coaching the young players was "exhilarating."
"I got to share what I love and what I'm passionate about with other people," said Diggs. "It made my day seeing them smiling, laughing, having fun--and seeing their faces light up after I gave them a hand shake or an encouraging word after they made a catch, threw the ball hard, or kept up with us girls. It was a great clinic this year!
The clinic is one of two service projects that softball players participate in each year, under the direction of Bowling and the leadership of the seniors and team captains.
"Coach Dee is all about giving back. Since we all have received so much, and have had mentors to look up, to she feels that it is our responsibility to give openly and willingly of our time and our talents that God has given us, which falls right in line with CJ's dedication to community service," Diggs said. "I personally think that our community service events our enjoyable and somehow I always end up having a great time."
Bowling, who is coaching the Eagles for her 11th year, believes that being involved with a high school team should be more than just playing the sport. “It helps the girls develop body, mind and spirit. For me, it's about showing the girls the skills they will need to succeed in life and not just preparing for the next game. That’s how you measure the success of the program. Providing community service is part of that.”
“We have a lot to be proud of in our kids at CJ,” said Bowling. “The girls represented CJ very well Saturday. They are a top notch group.”