Suzy Speaks Softball & Money

Meet Suzy.  Suzy is a 12 year old 6th grader who because of mad skills graduated from Rec ball to travel and tourney ball.  Suzy’s parents are like any other girls parents – hardworking, honest and trying to keep bills paid and food on the table.  The transition to travel and tourney ball was not one that financially fit into their monthly budget, but they – like so many other parents in this world, have made the necessary sacrifices to make it work. 

The thing is, that Suzy – being a kid, sometimes feels embarrassed and ashamed that when many of her teammates plan to go to Applebee’s during a lunch break at a tourney, that she cannot go.  Despite pleads and begs from her softball sisters and encouraging eyes from the other parents to join in on the festivities, Suzy stays at the field – genuinely appreciative that she has been given the opportunity to play ball in a competitive environment even if her commitment means that she has to give up on some of the niceties and extra social pleasures that often go hand in hand with the game.

When all the girls are eating Icee’s and Pixie Sticks, she is looking for home brought snacks in her family’s cooler, (Which by the way is one of the tips for saving money come tourney day in a previous post!)  knowing that her mom and dad have already dropped half a grocery budget on gas, snacks, and drinks to last throughout the day.

And Suzy, who gives 110% at each and every tournament and has never missed a practice, has never been able to buy a tournament shirt or hoodie on site.  In fact, during August, Suzy had to skip a tournament because her parents quite frankly were unable to afford the days tournament fee – and she was greatly missed by her teammates.  When her entire team planned a long trek to an overnight camp, she was too was unable to go.

Back in March, when Suzy first made her new travel team, she happily and with gratitude accepted her team dues as her one and only birthday present.  She collected money from her relatives, and in lieu of any gifts or cake, asked her parents to use the money for her team fees, even coming up with the extra $20 she was short by selling cans and draining her piggy bank.

Suzy swings a hand me down bat, and yet still maintains a batting average of .675, slugging from the 4 hole on her team.  The bat was handed down to her from a friend, and during one game because the bat was so blemished and worn down that the ASA and USSSA legality was unable to be seen and umpire forbid Suzy from using her bat.

She wears her fathers old baseball glove – something she wouldn’t trade for the newest glove on the market today.

Unfortunately, in many ways – fastpitch softball has become a sport of the ‘wealthy.’ Luckily, there are still a lot of girls out there in this world whose parents believe in their daughters enough to make it work, and enough young girls in this world that are ready and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make competitive softball affordable for their family.

What you may not realize, is that there is a Suzy or two – or three, or four on each and every team out there. And these girls and their parents aren’t asking for handouts, or for others to feel sorry for them. In fact, we each likely have no idea what goes on fiscally in the homes of the people on our teams. The last thing that girls like Suzy needs are pressures or judgments or questions from others about why she cannot go to Steak n Shake, or why her bat is so old.  So if you suspect a Suzy, try to use compassion.

Most importantly, is the realization that the Suzy’s of the world are stellar athletes who tend to NOT take advantage of their time spent on the field. They realize the worth, and are grateful for the opportunity to just play ball. As is true with most things in life, material status in life rarely equates to worth.

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