Jacksonville, FL- Did you know that Florida State College at Jacksonville has a softball team located at North Campus? If you didn’t, now you do! Our Blue Wave softball team hits homeruns, steals bases, make dynamic plays and throw girls out on a daily basis. Many people are under the impression that softball is an easy sport compared to American football and baseball, but it’s not true. Softball is a difficult game, with many rules and is known to be one of the toughest sports, mentally. Even though baseball and softball are very much alike, a lot of people do not know the history and that softball is a sport of its own- and not just a different version of baseball.
Many people assume that softball derived from baseball, but softball originally came about because of a football game. Softball originated during Thanksgiving Day of 1887, when several Yale University alumni were sitting around awaiting the outcome of the Yale versus Harvard football game. Yale was announced as winner, subsequently, a Yale alumni threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter to pick on him. The Harvard fan swung at the glove with a stick, and they repeated this little game multiple times. The rest of the alumni group and other people looked at this event with interest. The first official softball games commenced with the football supporters using a boxing glove and a broom handle instead of a bat. Softball had a few different names such as “kitten baseball,” “diamond ball,” “indoor baseball,” and “pumping ball”. In 1930 Walter Hakanson, a representative of the YMCA, officially named the sport softball.
In the game of softball, there are nine players on the field at a time. The players take the positions of pitcher, catcher, third baseman, short stop, second baseman, first baseman, left field, centerfield and right field. You can earn runs by hitting the ball and touching each base, including the homeplate. The team with the most runs at the end of the seventh inning is named the winner. Today, softball is one of the most popular sports in America. The game can be played by players as young as 5 years old and some players over 60 years old in age. An estimated 40 million Americans participate in at least one softball game each year.
Just like many sports, every team needs a coach. The head coach for the Florida State College at Jacksonville is Jami Lind. Coach Lind has been coaching at Florida State College at Jacksonville for 32 years. In 2018, Lind will retire. In total, she has compiled a 1,178-475 win-loss record. Those wins make her the third junior college softball coach with the most wins in the United States.
“As coaches, we are not only teaching the fundamentals and strategies of our sports, we are also teaching the value of hard work, teamwork, time management as well as health and nutrition. I often tell recruits and their parents that what they learn outside of the classroom in college will teach them more necessary life skills than what they learn in it,” Lind said. The Florida State College at Jacksonville softball team has been one of the top-ranked teams in the state every year. In 2009, the team won the State Tournament and advanced to the National Tournament in Utah.
“We not only try to teach how to win but how to handle losing and disappointment, and how to make adjustments in order to win and reach our goals.” – Jami Lind
Even though Lind loves to win, she definitely defines success in more ways than the win-loss record or state rankings. Lind takes pride in the team’s graduation rate, the high overall team GPA and the number of softball alumni currently playing at four-year schools.
The assistant softball coach at Florida State College at Jacksonville is Leah Bennett. Bennett will begin her fourth season with the team this upcoming fall. Bennett graduated for Episcopal High School in Jacksonville and then pursued her softball and academic career at Florida State University. She brings over 15 years over coaching experience at both high school and travel ball level. In addition, Bennett also has a background in athletic training and spent several years doing physical training and conditioning for the Marine Corps. Having the experience of training marine corps has helped Bennett to create the conditioning and strength training for the softball team. Freshman and Floridian native Carolina Colli came to Jacksonville in the Fall of 2016 and has experienced what it was like to be part of the team, including the workouts that coach Bennett gave to the softball team.
“Working out with the team was definitely tough. I do not enjoy running and one day we had to run 6 miles in total, in the rain,” Colli said while shaking her head. “Even though sometimes I felt like giving up, working out and getting stronger physically has helped me get better results during softball. I also felt like it helped with the team bonding since we were all in it together,” Colli said.
The softball team does not only spend time in the classroom and on the field, but they also volunteer in the Jacksonville Community. After Hurricane Matthew hit, the softball team came together and helped with removing trees and other damages. They raised money for donations for toys for tots, they worked together with the baseball team to plant trees at North Campus and they volunteered their time to help in hospitals and youth sports.
“The softball team were fantastic at caring about other people. I think collegiate athletes should be mentors and role models and I think they did a great job doing that,” assistant coach Leah Bennet said.
As softball is a sport of its own, the Blue Wave team is unique in its own ways. Not only should they be judged by their athletic achievements, but also by their achievements off the field as volunteers and students. Are you interested in being part of the Florida State College at Jacksonville softball team? Visit the website www.gobluewave.com for more information!