Roncalli Softball: Compassion and Competition

Here is a letter from the Indianapolis Roncalli High School girls softball team. This is a great example of recognizing that compassion and competition can mix well. Congrats to all of their coaches and players. What a tremendous example!

In my 5 years at Roncalli I have been very blessed to see the amazing power of God time and time again in my students and players. I have always felt like one of the luckiest people on earth that I get to spend day after day with these students. In all of that time I have never felt more blessed than I did April 14th 2010.

On that day I was at the softball field after practice helping get our field ready for a freshman softball game. We were playing against Marshall High School which is an IPS magnet only in its second year re-forming as a High School. Their team was about to play their first game as a school. They arrived to the field with a set of mis-matched catchers gear, a bag of extremely overly used gloves with no padding, 2 bats, 5 balls, 2 coaches who had never played softball one of which had never seen a softball game, and 11 of the most determined young ladies who I have ever had the privilege to be around. These 11 girls showed up with no cleats, no sliders, no sliding shorts, no long socks, no gloves of their own, no batting helmets, and no experience playing softball among the 11 of them. They had only had 1 week of practice on a field that has trees growing in the outfield.

Upon their arrival and after speaking with their coaches I asked if I could help out in their dugout which they were more than willing. I spent pieces of that time answering questions such as "which one is first base?" and "how do I hold this (bat)". While also showing the coaches where the coaching boxes were, how to fill out a lineup card, etc. What I encountered though were 11 girls who had joined a team that they had no experience for because they wanted to be a part of something. Marshall High School was featured in the paper 2 days before as one of the extreme underperforming schools in the city. I cannot imagine how with the quality of student that I met.

After an inning and a half of girls not knowing where to stand in the box and their pitchers walking 9 batters I had a discussion with their coaches and athletic director. We decided to call the game as a forfeit at that time to get the umpires off of the field. The purpose was to spend some time that I and our coaches might be able to work with them. Their coaches talked to the Marshall players about this, during this time I was fielding requests from half the JV team at Roncalli to come into the dugout and work with their girls on stance and hitting. It was amazing. The Marshall players did NOT want to quit, they were willing to loose 100 to 0 if it meant they finished their first game. The Roncalli coaches were willing to forfeit and take the loss and with that offer the Marshall girls realized that they should do it.

The story does not end here. At this time the Roncalli freshman team came over, introduced themselves and with the Holy Spirit active in their hearts took the field with the Marshall girls to show them positions, how to field a ground ball, how to throw, how to catch, where to stand, what an out was. The pitchers from Roncalli worked with the Pitchers from Marshall showing them technique and release points. Our coaches were teaching their coaches how to soft toss and different drills they can use.

After about 20-30 minutes each Roncalli Girl matched up one on one with the Marshall Players and taught them how to hit. I will forever remember the image of 11 sets of players spread out in our outfield soft tossing and hitting off tees, one at a time the Marshall girls would come in to hit off of the pitchers and one at a time I could see determination and a desire to just be better. As they hit the ball their faces LIT UP! They were high fiving and hugging the girls from Roncalli, thanking them for teaching to them the game.

Almost as emotional was the look of pure love on the faces of the Roncalli girls. I knew that one wrong attitude, one babying approach from our players would shut down the Marshall team who already were down for thinking they were quitters but our girls made me as proud as I have ever been to be a Rebel because they knew they could do something small to make a large difference!

If you are still reading you may be teary eyed as I was and am right now. I tell all of you this story not only out of pride but out of a sense that we can do more. The budget for this program is 0. In witnessing what I did I was reminded of how fortunate we have it. When I see half of the teams in the county and surrounding areas, including reigning state champs, not fielding freshmen teams because they don't want to deal with it, it absolutely warms my heart to think of the Marshall Patriots.

I have some ideas of some great things we can do for these kids, I think everyone of them deserves to have their own bats, gloves, cleats, sliders, batting gloves, helmets, all of it. Why would they not.

At this point I look to all of you. I am looking for gently used bats, Gloves, and helmets. I am looking for money to buy new cleats, batting gloves, sliders, sliding shorts, Socks and maybe get some team shirts and stuff made for them. But I am also looking for help. If there is anyone, or group of anyones, who would be willing to help me establish this relationship, collect/buy these items I would love to hear from you. The last thing is if you know of someone who is a retired coach, or a fan of the game with time on their hands, I am sure that the Marshall Coaches could use some help and guidance as well.

Phillipians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" This quote has never seemed more prudent to me because after Last night through the example of the Roncalli Rebels and the Marshall Patriots, I feel that the presence of Christ on that softball field could have moved mountains.

Thank you for your time and commitment to what we do here.

Peace and Thanks,

Jeff Traylor

Roncalli High School
Theology Department
J.V. Softball Coach
Junior Class Moderator
Contact @ 317-340-0534