It wasn’t about results but getting better everyday.
The Okanagan Elite Gold 94 and 95 teams did that during the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship held in White Rock July 9 to 17.
“We had some good games against good teams,” said coach Joni Frei. “Our bantam team (Okanagan Elite Gold 95), they had a game against the Burnaby Oakeys (3-2 win).”
Frei said she took a group of B and C players with the intention of turning them into A ball players. Two of those players were Jennifer Black and Kasandra Keir.
“It was the best week ever,” said Black, noting two years ago she dreamed of playing in the championship. “We stayed in a hotel with Peru, Hawaii, Britain, Japan and California kids, too. I gained like 30 Facebook friends from that.”
Black, 16, admitted the playing aspect was amazing, too.
“Just watching it was unbelievable,” she said.
Their eyes were opened to the dedication required.
“My coaches always said, Japan really focuses on the details,” said Black. “Even when there is six hours of rain delay, we saw Japan in the parking lot working on their swing, or throwing. I took a few photos of it just because I was like, ‘Whoa, you guys are dedicated.’ No wonder they won the whole tournament.”
Frei joked with her players that she would like be able to just watch with her feet kicked up and not coach. It happened as they defeated the Devils 5-2. It was a rewarding feeling for the players.
“We were so excited because we never thought the day would come this year,” said Keir.
Other players who were strong were Summerland’s Lindsea Cutt, on the 94 team, as well as Hannah Vesper of Cawston. On the 95 team are Alexandra Vesper, Candace Hamilton and Brett Needham of Penticton, Alexa Brickenden and Madison Wilms of Summerland.
“We’ve got the athletes,” said Frei. “We have to improve the grass roots level. Get them playing competitive softball. What we’re lacking are the resources and the funding to do what we want to do. I need people in our valley to start supporting what we’re trying to do. We have kids who have potential to go on scholarships.”