Leading up to the International Softball Federation IX Jr. Women's World Championship (19-and-under), December 6-17, 2011, in Cape Town, South Africa, USA Softball Junior Women's National Team members Cheyenne Cordes, an outfielder from Fairfield, Calif., and Chelsea Goodacre, a catcher from Temecula, Calif., will be blogging biweekly for USASoftball.com.
March 17, 2011Playing on world stage 'best thing' any player could dream of
As I’m sure you can imagine, California to Bogota was a very long plane flight and it was probably the longest fight I have ever been on. When we landed in Bogota, I was amazed to see how many people there were! I read that there are close to eight million people in Bogota, Colombia, which is twice the population of Los Angeles and 80 times the population as my home town of Temecula, Calif.
If you know or have heard about what Los Angeles traffic is like — double it, and you will have an idea of the traffic there. Unless you are comfortable driving like you’re in a NASCAR race and demolition derby at the same time, while also continuously getting honked at –and you honking right back,then you may not want to drive yourself around Bogota. Thankfully our USA Team traveled everywhere together in a big bus so we were rollin’ down the roads, much bigger than a lot of the other cars (and a couple horse drawn buggies) and that was perfectly fine with me!
When we finally had a chance to eat I quickly learned that I was going to have to make some adjustments to my diet of foods that I am used to and are easily found in the US, but would prove to be impossible to find here in Colombia. A little known fact about me: I am not normally one that tries different foods, a trait which seems to drive my parents crazy. But I know what I like to eat, so why stray away from it? At least that's the way I was before traveling to South America! My three years of high school Spanish would now be put to the test to order food I was going to have to eat. Thank goodness my parents talked me out of taking French!
There are 17 girls from seven different states on our USA Junior National Softball Team, each of us has our own unique personalities. When our coaches had the idea for us to team up and perform an impromptu skit, in front of our coaches, teammates and families, it was apparent that we were all funny, outgoing, creative and maybe a little weird, but when these same girls put on a uniform and step on a softball field, we are all serious and fierce competitors and nothing short of doing our best it acceptable! We were there to win Gold for the USA, but to also show how much we love, honor and respect this great game.
I couldn’t believe it, when our team arrived at the Colombian softball fields to practice, there were many Bogota fans wanting to take pictures with us, watching us practice and asked for autographs. It was a very cool and it surprised me. It was also the first time I gave an autograph to someone! Our USA coaches had brought souvenir items for us to pass out to the fans, and there were plenty of fans who wanted a souvenir from our USA team.
Although all the fans were great, I particularly liked our time with the young kids who were watching us. I remember when I was their age, 8 or 9 years old, watching our USA National Team play in local tournaments, and how excited I was to get an autograph from one of our USA players. (I think I should mention that, although some say I might be a little crazy, I’m not delusional and I want to be clear that I’m not insinuating that I am anywhere close to being someone famous like the Superstars on our National Team, who by the way, we will be playing exhibition games against this summer. See you soon ladies. Yikes!)
The kids in Colombia were very excited and and I was equally excited giving things to them. Bringing a smile to the face of a young kid was special to me and a part of being on this team that I didn’t expect or even consider, but I am very thankful and blessed I had this chance to experience.
Over the two weeks we were in Colombia, I had the opportunity to watch softball players from many other countries compete against each other. I realized that the passion to play this great game of softball is not exclusive to me and my USA teammates, these girls love this game as much as we do! We are from different countries, we may not speak the same language but we were all softball athletes, there to represent our country and to bring home the Gold Medal. I also noticed that although some teams didn’t have the latest and greatest softball gear or the latest softball bat to hit the market, every player on every team had something in common with each other and that is the desire, passion and dedication to be the best softball player they can be and the courage to put on that uniform, step on the field, put it all on the line and compete against the best softball players from other countries. It was such an incredibly cool experience and so much more than just softball.
I think sometimes we can get caught up in what we are doing and never really stop to smell the roses (as my dad puts it) and consider all the little things about this game and the common bond all of us softball players share. Our USA team came home with the Gold Medal which was such a proud moment for me and one that words cannot describe. I also think about the players we competed against, who I may never see again, but we shared a moment of our lives as softball competitors on a field in a Bogota, Colombia, and I will always cherish that.
I, like so many other softball players in the USA and across the world, was very upset when the International Olympic Committee decided to remove softball from the Olympic Games. I was even sadder, when we could not get it voted back in, after all the hard work that was being done around the world to get it reinstated. As I think about all these wonderful experiences and having this chance to wear the USA uniform and to compete on a world stage for a Gold Medal, this was the best thing any softball player could dream of.
I am very thankful to ASA/USA Softball for everything they do to make this happen for us, it is truly appreciated from the bottom of my heart. I would also like to thank the International Softball Federation (ISF) for providing us this world stage to compete on and for working so hard to bring our sport to parts of the world that had never played softball before. Watching so many different teams from so many different country’s, march out on the softball field each proudly wearing the uniform of their country they represent and me with USA on my jersey, was a very proud moment for me and one that I will remember for a lifetime.
Go Team USA!