In Europe, no other sporting event takes precedence over World Cup Soccer.
Last month, however, girls’ softball trumped international football — at least for some very proud and enthusiastic parents, as the 11- and 12-year-old Stuttgart All Stars battled against the Ramstein All Stars at Ramstein Air Base June 26 in a European Little League tournament.
While Stuttgart lost to Ramstein in the best-of-three tourney, along with the chance to go to Italy and compete in the regional tournament, the intent of the experience was met.
“We wanted to give the girls the opportunity to play at the next level,” said, Joseph Marvin, the All Stars coach for the last two years.
“This tourney gave them a taste of what the big leagues are like, and we hope that we have motivated them toward year-round participation,” he said.
Players from U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Child, Youth and School Services’ softball teams underwent two separate tryouts to make the All Star team. The top 13 were selected.
“CYS helped ensure the girls met the minimal playing requirement to qualify to participate in the tournament, and they provided them an opportunity to learn the basics,” said volunteer CYS Services Dodgers coach, Alice Lamb.
Five Dodger players made the All Star cut, while other players came from the Orioles and Angels teams.
A few of the girls who played in CYS Services’s Junior League and did not meet Little League requirements to play at the junior-level tourney, were permitted to “play down” at the 11-12-year-old category.
“I am very proud of this team. They were only formed about a month ago, but they came together and fought the good fight,” said Lamb.
Coach Marvin is pushing to expand the Ambassadors Program, a Stuttgart Little League program he founded last year, which allows the girls to work on skills and develop themselves during the off season.
“Right now we are just in the development stage, so we only practice on Sunday at [2 p.m.] on Husky Field on Patch. Once we get more girls involved I’ll like to have it two to three times a week,” he said.
According to Marvin, Ambassador recruitment occurs at all levels; experienced high school students help mentor and assist the younger new players.
The goal would be to form a truly competitive team capable of fighting their way to international competition, he said.
Players are held to National Little League girls’ softball standards, and all that is required to participate is a permission slip from parents and a medical release form.
“The expense to the family is minimal — a glove, cleats and a bit of time covers it,” said Marvin.
Any girl from 10 years old to high school age can participate. Parents who want to help with drills or to learn the game are also welcome.
For more information on the Ambassador’s Program, contact Joe Marvin at Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on CYS Services sports, call CYS Services Sports and Fitness at 431-2616/07031-15-2616.