EDITOR’S NOTE: This feature story appeared in the Surrey Now-Leader’s inaugural edition of Next Gen, a special quarterly section that celebrates Surrey’s youth. Click here to see the full e-edition.
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Since I started playing baseball, I’ve been told by many coaches that to achieve my goals and dreams, I need to put in the time and effort. I know I’m not there yet, but I like to believe that I’m on my way. I’m not going to say the journey was easy and it certainly isn’t now.
I am a female baseball player and usually the only one on a team of 11 guys. But that doesn’t bother me – not usually, anyhow. It just pushes me to be even better. But how I got here? It was definitely a bumpy ride.
It’s kind of crazy how subtle things can change and how long it can take for you to notice the changes. Back when I was eight and just starting baseball, everyone was having a blast. All us little baseball players were learning fundamentals like how to throw a ball and swing a bat. There were no worries. No stress. So being a girl was barely an issue as I moved up divisions, playing with different teams, some with other girls.
But eventually, it was just me. And I could definitely feel it. My teammates didn’t really talk to me. I felt like an outsider. To be clear, they never said or did anything mean to me. But not a single one asked me to play catch or to be partners with me. Not a single one would simply come up to me and say, “Hi,” or “Hey, how’s it goin’?”
I may have been on a team, but I definitely didn’t feel a part of it.
Don’t get me wrong, there were maybe one or two boys who viewed me as a teammate. But that didn’t come until a little while later, like on my recent baseball team. A few of my most recent teammates were awesome, and my coach was also amazing.
When it comes to positions on the diamond, there are pretty standard spots for girls to play – second base and outfield. But every so often, as in my case, a girl takes the mound. During my second year in Peewee (13U), I pitched a lot during the first month of the spring season. Then I played second base. And then, I was right field.
I thought I was doing something wrong to be placed in the outfield because I knew for sure that my coach was aware that I played infield. I couldn’t think of any reason why I was in the outfield. I thought I was a pretty good infielder. I kept the baseball in the infield, threw some people out. I did make mistakes but don’t we all?
During home games, every single time the inning ended and I had to run in from the outfield, I felt awful. I was always the last one to get off the field because it was the farthest position from the dugout. It honestly felt like the run of shame.
But later, I realized that I shouldn’t focus on the reasoning behind my playing position. If I’m going to be an outfielder, then I’m going to do my darn best at it. If I had known that not all coaches were like that toward female baseball players, then I don’t think I would’ve dwelled on it so much.
I was once told – recently actually – that boys don’t really know how to talk to us. I would say that growing up on an all-guys baseball team has made me quiet and so when I got older, the guys didn’t talk to me. So in return, I didn’t bother trying to talk to them.
But I’ve discovered from my most recent baseball team that some of my teammates are really cool. And we do talk… in a way. I am 15 and guys still don’t come up to me to just say “Hi.” Then again, I don’t either.
Wouldn’t it just be awesome if everyone saw everyone as just a super amazing baseball player? Or if there were no gender walls keeping us apart? No awkwardness between us?
My goodness, if that was the case, baseball would be incredible for girls to play. There would be no need for an all-girls team.
There would just be… baseball.
I would just like to say that all the struggle that I’ve been through has molded me into the baseball player I am today. I don’t think I’d be anywhere near as strong as I am if I didn’t play baseball.
And I’m not talking about physically strong. (I’m going into Midget, and all the guys are going to be way bigger than me). I’m talking about the strength inside. Having a strong mind. A strong heart.
The strength inside is what has carried me through the hard and incredibly difficult times – the times where I didn’t want to feel alone anymore on my team. The times where I had had enough of those coaches who couldn’t look past my ponytail. I’ve learned to ignore those kind of people because I know what I am capable of, and it is definitely more than they could ever imagine a girl to do in baseball. I look back on those years I struggled to show everyone what I could do and I look back proud.
I stuck with it and look where I am now. I’m playing on a high-caliber team with incredible coaches. The climb may be so challenging that you just want to stop. You may not even see the top just yet. But believe me, you will. I’m still fighting my way up.
With every challenge you overcome, there’s a reward. You struggle and fight for what you want and you’ll be so happy in the end and relieved that you kept going.
Life throws you a million fastballs, but when it mixes it up and throws you that curveball, be ready and smash that thing right out of this world.
And boy, will it feel so good.
Katelyn Foubert is a Grade 10 student at Sands Secondary School. She recently finished her baseball season with the Delta Tigers and will be training this winter with the South Fraser Giants.