From softballs, bats and gloves to scholarships
Northern High School student seeks to provide opportunities to young Chinese girls
Courtesy Northwest Observer
By Sarah Burchette
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012 11:06 AM CDT
In America, often referred to as the “land of opportunity,” it may be difficult to imagine a life where decisions concerning your education, career and future are out of your control. But for many young girls in China, that life is a reality.
Alicia Daly, a sophomore softball player at Northern High School, has a unique idea for impacting that scenario – collecting baseball and softball equipment.
Alicia found out a few months ago that she was going to travel to China with her hitting and pitching coach, Michael Bastian, and a team of 15 girls to train with the Chinese National Softball team. That’s when she started to think about ways to help young girls in China.
Bastian had described to Alicia the cultural differences and lack of opportunities that Chinese girls often face. After thinking about how churches collect shoe boxes filled with toys, candy and other supplies at Christmas time to send to children across the world, Alicia decided that she wanted to do something similar – but with things relating to softball.
“We’ve seen softball make such a big impact in Alicia’s life, in this community, in Summerfield Rec Association, and Northern (middle and high schools), and we wanted to help other girls who can’t afford to participate to have the chance to learn and grow while playing the sport,” says Alicia’s mother, Susan Daly.
Alicia and her mother explained that in China, girls have very limited opportunities to play sports or seek higher education. Because of those limitations, most commit themselves to factory work for their entire lives.
“It’s not like America, where girls think about going off to college or having the opportunity to play sports,” says Daly. “Most colleges in China don’t have a sports program so the girls lose that opportunity.”
The Fastpitch School (TFS) that Alicia will be playing with in China was founded by Bastian, who coaches internationally. He has worked to provide Chinese girls with opportunities to play softball and increase their possibility of earning scholarships to universities in the U.S. If granted a scholarship for softball, a female Chinese student can stay with a host family as she plays and furthers her education.
But getting to a level where the girls are eligible for scholarships can be difficult. If a child is good enough, her family can give her over to a training program through the government. Only a very small percent are given that chance.
That is why Alicia’s goal is to collect as much equipment as possible to take to her future friends in China. Providing them with equipment not only will increase their opportunity to play softball and further their education, but she hopes it will also expand their perspective on the world.
“It’s about getting the girls away from the factories and giving them the opportunity to play the sport and go to college,” says Daly. “And it’s about trying to broaden the Olympic possibility.”