Sixty-nine girls ages 6-12 converged on James Park on Oct. 11 to participate in a free softball clinic hosted by the Evanston Baseball & Softball Association (EBSA). Evanston Township High School Head Softball Coach Luella Gesky; ETHS Junior Varsity Coach Katherine Johnson; Amy Gonzales, former UIC player and teacher at ETHS; and Northwestern University pitching coach/former Stanford pitcher Tori Nyberg worked with players from ETHS and the Evanston Express 14U teams to teach participants the basic skills of hitting, throwing, base running and pitching. The goal of the clinic was to introduce girls to the sport and show the benefit of a healthy, fun activity.

“The hope for the EBSA softball program is to not only offer the skill sets needed for these young women to be outstanding softball players but also to nurture a spirit of self-confidence and self-belief that will serve them well both on and off the softball field. The young women who attended the clinic are well on their way to a bright and empowered future. We look forward to seeing them on the softball diamonds this spring,” said Trina Whittaker, EBSA vice president-Softball Program.

EBSA begins at the House level where girls from kindergarten through 8th grade can join a team, learn the basics of the sport and play at Evanston parks. The league groups kids according to school and honors requests to be with friends whenever possible. At age 9, girls have the added opportunity to try out for EBSA’s travel softball league, Evanston Express, and play teams in the surrounding suburbs on a more competitive level.

Larkin Zdawczyk, age 7, played softball for the first time at the clinic and said, “It was really fun.” Her favorite part: pitching. Larkin’s friend Lillie Gliva, also 7, enthusiastically said she had a great time and that batting was her favorite.

Registration for EBSA House League teams begins in January and runs through Feb. 28. Watch the website for more information on teams and future clinics and