Written by Kris Caldwell:
As I sat and watched the Women’s College World Series this year, one thing hit me somewhat hard: there are too many young players that do not know anything about the legends that came before. Names like Dot Richardson, Lisa Fernandez, Michele Smith, Crystl Bustos, and many others seem to be “greats” lost on a new generation. Some are known more for being on television, than what they did on the field.
As a community, we should not simply be teaching young players the physical skills needed but the history of the game as well. Being a student in every aspects of the game never hurts. Learning about the sacrifices and barriers these athletes faced can help young players find a new respect for the game. What made the players great and or unique? Compared to Major League Baseball, our stories are non-existent. One significant aspect of baseball fandom is it’s history; both from a story and statistical perspective.
When is the last time you heard a young lady say, “now up, trailing in the bottom of the seventh with two on and two outs is Crystl Bustos!” while warming up or elsewhere? Young boys do this all the time when playing around, at practice, or warming up. It’s the classic scene you see play out in the movies too. There is a deep connection between young players and those who came before them. Softball needs this, and we need to start now.
Let’s start embracing our past; let’s hold our former greats in the highest esteem. I challenge our different media entities to help tell the stories of the players from our past. Coaches, take the time to talk about some of the players from the past as well. Players, take the time to read about the game’s past players and significant moments in our history.
If you get a chance to meet them at a tournament or event, take the time to do so. Take a minute to thank them for laying the groundwork for what we have today.