It has been eight years since the North West region (Zone 7) last sent a girls softball team to the BC Summer Games, but thanks to a group of insistent players, including Thornhill’s Amber Underwood, that has changed in Cowichan this weekend.
Underwood and some of the other girls from the Terrace co-ed league started pushing coach Geoff Watt to put a team together, pressure that increased when it turned out that a boys team from the North West would be competing. Eventually, their persistence paid off.
“We put it out there to the other softball leagues,” Underwood said.
The North West team drew players from a massive area, including Terrace, Smithers, Prince Rupert, Moricetown, Hazelton and Houston, which came with its own challenges.
“Every second practice was in Terrace, because most of us are from there and our coach is from there,” Underwood related. “But for the others we travelled. There are pictures of us playing in the rain in Prince Rupert.”
Now 16, Underwood has been playing softball since she started T-ball at the age of six.
“I just think it’s a fun game. I love team sports. I love being a leader,” said Underwood, who is among her team’s most vocal players on the diamond and hopes to one day play for a post-secondary softball team.
With no other all-girls teams in the region, the North West team played exhibition games against ladies teams to prepare for the Summer Games. They’ve been impressed with the calibre of play at the Summer Games.
“The competition is definitely hard down here,” said a wide-eyed Underwood.
The experience as a whole has been worth all the hard work, both in getting a team together and in preparing for the Games like any other team has to.
“It’s very exciting. It’s great,” Underwood said. “In our league, there aren’t too many girls, so it’s not only empowering, it’s a great way to make new friends; it’s a lot more fun.”
Follow along with Black Press Media’s full coverage of the B.C. Summer Games here.