Italy in the summer, a pack of new team mates and an international competition – not a bad way to spend August, is it? That wonderful triumvirate is what Jasmine MacDonald is looking forward to when she joins the USA women’s softball team at an international softball tournament.
MacDonald has been playing softball in Quesnel for 12 years, back catcher being her chosen position, taking vacations to Okanagan in the summer to hone her skills there and has recently been applying for universities down south, for which she has a profile on the NCSA website.
MacDonald was focused on catching some scholarships on the back of her softball skills, after she graduated early, with a back up plan of going to school at CNC, when a chance to join the American softball team in Italy came out of nowhere.
“I got an e-mail and they were offering me a spot,” MacDonald said.
They had seen her NCSA profile with her stats and video of her playing and had decided to invite her out.
And this, much like her early graduation, as a bit earlier in life than most do – she’s the youngest on the team so far, a 17-year-old on a team of 18-19-year-olds.
That’s not the only difference between her and her team mates, as she’s a Canadian girl on an American team, which means they run in slightly different circles, so she’s not met a single one of the girls and that may not change for a while.
“I meet every single one of the girls in August in Rome,” she said.
“That is, if I don’t fly out from here I meet them in Texas.”
So that’s 37 different countries from around Europe, an unknown team and the knowledge that the American team has dominated the competition for some years now. Beside that, scouts will be there, watching every move and evaluating players to see who would do well in the higher leagues, or, say, if someone should get a scholarship to some college down in the United States.
So there is a bit of pressure on MacDonald, though she seems to be handling it well and keeping her sights on the possible benefits.
“I’m extremely nervous,” she said.
“It’s a huge opportunity and it’ll provide a lot of opportunities if I do well.”
With five months until there’s traction for any nervous energy, MacDonald has a lot of time in her hands.
“The moment I step on the field it will all go away, but it’s all that’s leading up to that which is nerve wracking,” she said.
Though the long wait may be a bit of a terror from a nerves stand point, it does allow MacDonald time to make sure she’ll be at the top of her game come the tournament.
Starting now, the diamonds are still truly in the rough, MacDonald has started her training routine. She’s working with a couple pitchers in town and hitting the gym as often as she can.
She’ll also be training at the Okanagan camp she attended when she was young.
So she has a full schedule, or a least what passes for full when you’re not on a team playing up to 16 games in six days, all while trying to take in as much of the local colour as possible.
But luckily for MacDonald, the organizers know they can’t ask young women to go to Italy and not see anything outside of a ball diamond. So while there will be a lot of training as a team in the first four days in Italy, there’s also time scheduled to do the tourist thing.
“We get to see a bit of Italy,” she said.
“The first four days we get to see something in the morning and then we practice non-stop in the evening.”
Now that’s real busy.