My name is Emma and I am from Poland. I have been playing softball since I was 14, and I came to my first practice, because my mum’s friend said that I should try this new sport. I played many sports before (tennis, football, volleyball and more), but none of them got me so hooked like softball. After a couple of years of practicing I was selected to play for the junior national team and have been playing for the Polish team since. Thanks to softball I have been able to travel and compete at international competitions, represent my country and it even got me my education. After playing for my Warsaw team and my National Team I decided to up my challenge and I went to play for a DII school in USA. I got an athletic scholarship to play for University of Bridgeport , where I spent four years. After graduating I came to the Netherlands where I will be playing my 4th season this year. This year I will play for Olympia Haarlem.
Softball in Poland is not popular at all. I was introduced myself to it as: “a sport like baseball, like the one from the movies, but for girls”. It seems funny, but this is how I have to explain it to people in Poland. We are quite big country in Europe, but we only have an average of 6 teams in only one league. I said average, because each year we don’t know how many teams will participate. Some of them will stop, because they can’t get enough players or money or some will come back to the league after a “retirement”, so often the league has its ups and downs. Being a softball player in Poland is not easy, but it only shows the passion of people who stay involved with it. I am from Warsaw, but getting through and getting funding is very hard there because of the amount of other “more popular” sports. The girls in the team have to pay monthly fees to cover gym rentals, travels, games, umpires and field rentals. In our case (Warsaw Diamonds), we do not have our own field so for the games we have to travel around 120km to Kutno, where we rent the fields from the Little League complex. We try to have 2 full team practices and one “pitcher and catchers” practices per week. When it comes to the league structure, we play it in the tournament plan, which means each team has to host a tournament over a weekend. All teams come and play the round of games. It seems to be the best solution since some of the teams are 400km apart. In Poland 99% of players are Polish. We have only couple of international players coming to play and it various every year.
Our National Team gets some money from the Polish Federation, but the amounts are very little, which means out equipment, preparation, accommodation and travels are very limited. We normally travel to all tournaments by bus, no matter how far they are. I will never forget my first ever Junior European Championships, which was under Moscow and we drove in the bus for 36h. It might sound extreme, but we are kind of used to it.
As you can see softball in Poland is very little, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have a big talent here. Every person is very passionate and works hard. Despite all the obstacles, the teams and players continue to play it, which is great. My story shows that it doesn’t really matter what background you are coming from but with the hard work and dedication every player can achieve a lot. From the country with only few teams I went to play for a DII school on an athletic scholarship and now I am privileged to play in one of the best leagues in Europe. With my national team, we only have great years to look forward to. Last European Championships we remained 15th as a tournament before. Last year our U22 team came 5th in the European Championships and it shows that we have a great young talent coming up which can achieve great things on this year’s Championships and the future.