The first time I put a glove I was 5 years old. My parents took me to sign up for T-ball at the local YMCA in Tampa. I must have loved playing because the next year I began to play on a coed coach pitch baseball team also through the YMCA. When I was 8, league age 9 for Little League, I went with my dad to sign up for Tampa Bay's major Little League Fastpitch Softball. I was young and not very coordinated, but somehow I managed to make it through tryouts and was picked by a team named the C-Gulls. My first practice was intimidating because most of the players were older and had more experience than me. I was overwhelmed because I was not very good. As my first season progressed the coach put me in more games as my skills began to develop. I can still remember the first time that I layed down a perfect bunt and made it safely to first base. That achievement to me was incredible and it was a true confidence booster for me. The next season I remained on the same team, but this year things were going to be very different for me. My dad was asked to be the assistant coach for the C-Gulls and he accepted the offer. Having my dad as a coach for 6 years of my Little League career was a great experience for me. I moved up to seniors when I was League age 13 and he coached the Chargers and the Tigers, two teams that I played for at the hightst Little League level. Eventhough we didn't always agree with eachother, we formed a bond that is still very strong today. I was not treated like the coaches daughter in any way. In fact, we had our fair share of fights over the years. I know that my father and I both learned a lot of things about eachother during those years in our lives. My ball playing career is still an important part of my life eventhough I don't play anymore. I have not played softball in about 5 and a half years.

Once I began to develop some skills for playing, I began to enjoy the game a lot more. I attended summer softball camps with other girls my age for a few years at the beginning of my career. A man named Pete Montelone hosted the camp for a week each summer. He taught skills to players with different ability levels and he taught me that no matter your age or size, softball goals can be achieved if you try your best. I learned something new everyday at his camps. My fondest memory was when we played a scrimmage game and all of the girls were divided into two teams. I was young and nervous when it was my turn to hit because the pitcher was an older experienced girl who pitched for another League. When I stepped in to the batters box I swung the bat and I hit the ball into right center field and got a double! Pete, the camp coach, saw my hit and told me how proud he was of me infront of all the campers. That double made me feel confident about my skill level and I learned that no player could intimidate me on the playing field. I played many positions in softball, but I pitched and played first base for the majority of my career. I was also the DH for my summer team most of the time. I loved hitting, it was my favorite part of softball.

I continued to play fastpitch Little League softball through middle school and up until my sophomore year of high school. When I was 14 years old I joined a summer traveling softball team called the Islanders. We played for ASA, the American Softball Association, and the team was formed of players who might play together in high school on the Plant team. At the time softball was my life and I was excited to play on this summer team. A lot of the girls that I met through Little League also played on this summer team and it was a great experience for all of us to play together on the same team. I was friends with all of the girls on the Islanders team and still keep in contact with many of them today. We traveled to Atlanta and Chatanooga for a tournaments and we also traveled within the state of Florida to various cities to play in tournaments. I remember in one tournament our team played 3 games in a row in the middle of the summer and we won them all.

Being a part of a team sport has helped me become the person I am today. I feel that working with others is important and my softball career helped me learn some important skills that are needed for working well with others in a group setting. I haven't played softball since I was 16, but I have a ball and a glove up at UF just in case I have the urge throw the ball around. My dad was my coach for six out of my 11 years of playing ball. By the time I reached high school I was burned out because I had been playing softball for most of my life. I was also reaching the age where my social life was becoming more important to me and softball was not longer my priority. I did not play for my high school team, but I supported them by going to the games when I had the chance. Playing a team sport was a wonderful experience and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to do so. My family was very supportive of me and my mom even learned how to keep score in the official book at my Little League games. She was the team mom for the majority of my playing days at Tampa Bay Little League. My softball memories are some of the greatest memories that I have of my youth. Fastpitch softball is growing as a sport and I think it is great that young girls and women are out displaying their atheltic abilities.

I would love to be a Little League softball coach if I have a daugher who is interested in playing softball. I would also a son who wanted to play baseball. Athletics is important for people of all ages, and I think that it is never too late to become actively involved in a sport or athletic activity. I still love fastpitch softball and sometimes it makes me sad to thinkg back on how much fun it was and all the good times that I had playing the game.

Created by: Kristie Gibbons
Most recent update: October 24, 2000
For more information, contact Kristie Gibbons