‘Cooper’s Club’: Softball brings players together on and off the field


Genevieve Guenther

Sean W. Cooper, Staff Writer

Editor’s note: The following is an installment of The Seahawk’s newest sports beat “Cooper’s Club,” which spotlights one UNCW club sports team per week. This week’s featured club is the softball team.

There are a total of 19 NCAA Division I sports teams at UNC Wilmington, of which one is softball.  For certain sports, there is also an intramural club, founded on the basis that those who do not make the “varsity” team will still have the opportunity to play.  This is not quite the case for UNCW’s softball club.

“We have girls on our team that did try out [for varsity softball] and didn’t make it, but they recruit more of their own people and they don’t take many walk-ons,” said senior Kaitlyn Henley, the club’s vice president, who plays centerfield. “I think that goes for any college sport at any school anywhere.”

All three of the club’s leaders admitted that none of them, and very few members of their club, had tried out for the varsity team.  However, they are very passionate about softball, two of them having played the sport for more than 18 years, and saw club softball as an opportunity to further their passion, and in an environment as competitive as the Division I team.

“We came to the club just because we like playing softball and we wanted to continue playing,” said Henley.  “We’re a little more competitive [than varsity] and we play other club teams so we try to keep that aspect.”

The softball club is split up into two teams: Team A, who plays both conference games and non-conference games, and Team B, who plays only non-conference games.  These teams consist of 17 and 9 members, respectively.

Each practice begins with a basic warm-up, followed by agility drills, throwing, and splitting up into infield and outfield for practice.  After that, the club practices drills, with some players working on hitting, fielding, pitching, and catching.

The softball club joined a new conference starting this semester, allowing them to play a different set of schools than in previous years.  Each tournament takes place on a Saturday or a Sunday and lasts from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, with games at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 PM.

“For me, [tournaments] kind of remind me of playing travel softball in high school and middle school,” said Henley. “Getting up early, traveling together, carpooling, getting food together.”

“It’s a long day, but it’s really fun,” said senior Jayden Maddox, the club’s secretary and pitcher.

Each semester sees three tournaments, of which two have already been played this semester.  The first was at Carolina, where the girls lost all three games, and the second was at Elon, where the girls won all three games.

One of the benefits of the intramural club is a sense of camaraderie found among. the players.

“We’re actually pretty good friends outside the club so we go do normal stuff like going out to dinner or getting ice cream,” said senior Sydney Kaydo, the club’s president, and catcher.  “We do team bonding before each tournament, so we go to the rec center and play volleyball or we go to somebody’s apartment and cook food for everybody.”

The softball club meets every Monday and Thursday from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at Cape Fear Optimist Park, located on 3222 N. Kerr Ave.  To join, attend one of two interest meetings in the spring, followed by three days of tryouts.

Sean W. Cooper can be found on Twitter @SWWCoop. Any tips or suggestion should be forwarded via email to [email protected]For video updates from The Seahawk, subscribe to our YouTube channel