Making in on the Blair Softball Team

Photo: Norma Menjivar gets a good hit in the varsity softball team practice.
By Norma Menjivar

My whole life I have been playing softball. When I came to this country, I wanted to play like in my country.

It was at the end of February when I was in ninth grade and I heard that if you wanted to try-out for the Blair softball team you had to go to room 117 or to talk to Mr. Hoelman. Since Mr. Hoelman was my P.E teacher, the next day I asked him about trying-out. He said, "Do you play softball?"

"Yes, I have been playing softball since I was a little kid," I said. I think he did not believe me because he looked at me as if he was thinking, "I do not know if she is telling the truth." He told me that I needed to go to his office to pick up some papers that I needed to fill out. Back then I did not know so many things about him. I did not know that he had been coaching the Blair JV softball for four years. He was my teacher, but I did not know that he was a coach too.

I went to the office and I picked up the papers. He told me that I needed to go to the doctor for some tests and that I only had two days to return the papers. I went to the doctor and I got the papers back to Mr. Hoelman.

The next day the try-outs started at 3:15 p.m. on the Blair softball field. I was the first girl to get to the Blair softball field. I think I was early because I really wanted to start playing softball no matter what. The weather was really cold outside. My nose was as red as a tomato.

I was sitting on the bench when I saw many white girls coming down to the field. They looked very strong, confident in themselves and they had their own equipment with them like bats, gloves, etc. But, I did not have anything with me.

They got there and they looked at me as if thinking, "What is she doing here?" I got nervous because I did not know any of the girls and my English was worse than ever. I did not understand what the girls were talking about, but I understood that one of them said, "About 50 girls are going to try-out for the JV Softball team this year." Another girl said," "Only the best 15 players are going to make it in on the team." I was confident, but I never thought that I had to compete with so many talented girls.

The coach finally got there and we started to run around the field. The field was as big as the sky and the grass was a dark green in color. The field was right beside a street called University Boulevard, so I could see and hear the noises coming from the street.

The tryout lasted about five days. It was time to choose 25 girls and the rest were out of the competition. The coach said, "On Monday I will put a paper in front of my office with a list of the 25 girls who can continue to try to make the team." I went home and I felt that I would not even make the first 25 girls because there were many good players who were strong and had experience.

When I got to my house my mom asked me, "Are you ok?" "Yes, I am fine," I responded, but I was not ok. I lay down on our sofa pretending to be tired, but I really wanted to cry, so I covered my face and I started to cry. My Mom came and said, "Why are you crying?" At first, I did not want to answer that question because I thought that she might think that I was crying for a stupid thing. Finally, I said," Because I think that I am not going to make the JV Softball team."

She said, "Why do you think that if you do not know the results yet?" I said, "Because there are many talented girls who I think are better than I am. The other thing is that I am the only Latin girl who is trying-out and everybody was looking at me as if they had never seen a Latin girl before."

She asked, "Are you really the only Latin girl?" "Yes," I said. "That is right, maybe they were looking at you because you are the only Latin girl trying out. However, you know what? If you do not make it, you can still try out next year," she said. I continued crying all along.

The next Monday I went to school and I told my friend Glenda to go with me to see if I had made it to the 25 finalists. I remember that I saw many girls around the window where the paper was. Some of them looked sad and disappointed. I told Glenda to hold my hand and if I did not make it to hug me as soon as possible. I remember that I went close to the window to see the paper and I started to read the list starting from the bottom of the paper.

When I got to the center of the paper, I turned my head to Glenda and I said, "I did not make it." She said, "Are you finished reading the paper?" "No," I said. She got close to me and we continued looking through the rest of the names on the paper. We both screamed when we saw the first, name on the paper! It was my name.

The next day the coach talked to the 25 girls that he had picked and he said, "We have only two days to determine the final 15 girls who will make the team." We worked very hard. I think those days were the most painful days of my life because we had to run for an hour and I could not breathe because I had a cold. Two days passed and it was time to hear the truth. The coach decided that he was going to call us in groups of six to tell us if we made it or not. I saw the first group crying." I thought that I would not make it because there were girls that were really good and had a lot of experience. That moment was very painful for me because I saw many girls crying and I did not want to cry in front of everyone. The coach finally called my group. We were the last group. We sat in front of him. He said, "Girls let me tell you that you made the team. Welcome to Blair JV softball. You will represent this school!" We screamed and we hugged each other.

In my sophomore year, I decided to try out for the varsity team and I also made it. Now I am proud to be the only Latin girl on the varsity team. At the same time, I feel sad to be the only one. Now all the girls are my friends and I get along with them. My best friend on the team was one of the people who encouraged me to try out for the varsity team in my sophomore year. However, the things that helped me were that my coach knew me from the JV team. He knows how I play and he likes my swing or how I am at bat. I think so!

 Copyright Silver International Newspaper 2002 (This page was created by Marvin Rodriguez.)