UMPI Softball Player Helps Grow the Game Around the World
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - : Brookelyn Garcia always wanted to be a coach, and in 2019, the California native was given the opportunity to do so when two-time softball Olympian, Natasha Watley needed volunteers.
“She posted that she needed coaching mentors for her foundation, the Natasha Watley Foundation and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh I have to work for her,’” Garcia said.
She worked for the non-profit, teaching girls in the Los Angeles softball and life skills. But Garcia was ready for more so Watley added to her responsibilities. She asked Garcia if she wanted to go to Gambia to teach more children about the game of softball, and the senior pitcher said yes. She had never traveled internationally, but she jumped on the chance. And, she is forever grateful for taking the risk.
“I think there was like 60 kids,” Garcia said. “We went to four different communities in the Gambia and teach them life skills through softball.”
In a matter of just eight days, Garcia found a completely different perspective of life and the game of softball.
“I learned a lot about love,” she said. “Like loving sport and loving yourself and always being kind to each other.”
She said the kids in Gambia were always wanted to spend the entire day playing softball. The senior then brought this new found perspective back to the Owls in Presque Isle.
She said that she told her team,”We really need to take the love for the game more seriously and all of this stuff because those kids are so excited all of the time.”
Garcia wanted her team to be that excited and grateful for the game.
“It’s opened her eyes quite a bit so she sees more,” said Head Coach Alissa Edwards. “She’s able to see being a teacher or being a coach and then going back to playing it helps you see things from different perspectives.”
Her teammates agree.
“She’s always a really good leader on the team and is there to pick you up when you need it,” said freshman Olivia Riitano.
Garcia still communicates with her athletes and coaches in Gambia, and hopes that she can go back soon. But until that time, she brings what she learns to impact her team and the game in any positive way she can.
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