CONTRIBUTED BY MACKENZIE CHIN
On the long bus ride home from an away game, the varsity softball team can be found playfully bickering over what music to play or making a quick stop for Mary Lou’s coffee.
These moments are characteristic for this year’s team. Since the team has only one senior, juniors and captains Sophie O’Dell and Mackenzie Chin said they are treating this year as an opportunity to build team chemistry and develop closer relationships off the field in hopes of producing more on-the-field success next year.
“This year, since we’re such a young team, I’m not expecting to go very far. This is like a building year for us,” O’Dell said. “I hope that we really merge as a team and compete as best as we can for right now.”
Chin said she wants to be mindful of breaking down any perceived barriers between players in different grades. Last year, the team had lots of seniors and Chin said the grade hierarchy was more obvious.
“We kind of followed their lead, but there’s been new leadership this year. It’s good team chemistry, but we’re still learning to trust people,” Chin said.
O’Dell said she believes putting an emphasis on bonding will lead to better performance during games, even though she initially struggled with how to connect with younger players.
“Although they’re younger than me I found out that we have a lot in common actually, which I didn’t expect,” O’Dell said. “You get to know your teammates more and there’s a level of trust that you have to build off of the field to make it good on the field.”
Pitcher Acid Humphreys, one of two freshmen on the team, said the captains have done a great job making everyone on the team feel included and important.
“On the team, there are seniors and freshmen and everything in between, but [the captains] always make it feel like there’s no age gap. It’s just like we’re all playing together,” Humphreys said.
As a transgender man, Humphreys was initially nervous about joining the girls varsity softball team but said the team was immediately accepting and welcoming. He said the captains and coaches, especially O’Dell, manage a good balance between hard work and keeping it lighthearted and fun.
“Sophie always brings the most energy. We’ll be low energy in the middle of an inning and Sophie will just come running and be like ‘everybody up, we’re cheering.’ We all just want to have energy when Sophie has energy. It’s infectious,” Humphreys said.
For Chin, the overarching goal is to figure out how to play as a cohesive team, something she said the group is still working on. The team’s current record is 3-7.
“Right now, there are good people, but it’s like one person for themselves. We’re not really working as a team. There are times when someone is making a play, but there aren’t people there to back it up and finish the play. I think we really need to pick each other up,” Chin said. “We need to be better at working and winning together, not as individuals.
As the varsity softball team continues to work on their skills during practices and games, they hope that the relationships they have formed off the field will continue to grow and strengthen.
“It feels like a family. It feels like siblings just messing around with each other, having fun,” Humphreys said. “I feel like these people are friends for life.”