It’s a hot, summer-like afternoon in May and Garibaldi Secondary Softball Academy head coach Katelyn Ross is running batting practice with her team at Cliff Park.
She’s upbeat and insightful. “Rotate that back knee through,” she says as the hitter cracks the ball. “Better!”
The academy, run in partnership with the Ridge Meadows Minor Softball Association (RMMSA), allows students to hone their skills on the diamond while also earning credits towards high school graduation.
The inaugural season has been a big hit with players and coaches.
“The best part is the girls see their own growth which is awesome,” says Ross, a former university fast-pitch softball star.
“[The players have] developed close friendships, love getting their practice during the day, not after school, love seeing how well they are doing on their out-of-school teams. The coaching staff are on a mission to assist the girls to grow in the sport and life.”
This year 17 players from grades 8-10 signed up for the academy and 21 are already registered for next year.
“The partnership between RMMSA and Garibaldi Secondary has enhanced the experience for these student-athletes,” says Tom Levesque, vice principal at GSS.
“Partnering with our local community groups to create unique learning experiences that allow our student-athletes to explore their passion while remaining in their home school is a great opportunity, especially when we have access to outstanding coaching and mentoring in our hometown.”
The academy is open to players of all skill levels. Some have dreams of playing softball after graduating from high school, which is something that Ross understands well.
She was one of the first RMMSA players to earn an international scholarship and finished her university career at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She knows what it takes to play at a high level.
“Scholarships and opportunities are available for players who meet the requirements and are wanting to move forward with their softball,” she says.
GSS teacher Heather Holland, an assistant coach with the academy, saw the student-players take great strides on and off the field this year.
“The girls improved their skills throughout the year. Not only did they improve their softball skills but their interpersonal skills as well. The girls have become more confident and skilled athletes. The coaches cannot wait for next year to start.”
For more information about the Softball Academy, visit http://www.sd42.ca/academy/softball-academy/