Softball life: Rania Zavitsanou, Greece


Softball in Greece is not popular. It was at its peak leading to the 2004 Olympic Games. We had good players and the tournaments were competitive. Nowadays, softball, like all amateur sports in Greece, lack financial aid and as a result, the Greek Softball Federation can not organize official tournaments. Teams have diminished and fewer coaches and players are involved in the sport. The softball field is another issue, as we only have one in Greece, in average condition. The players take care of it, as much as they can.

I have been playing softball since I was 9 years old, at Evryali Glyfadas Softball team.

At first, softball was just another sport for me, as I only practiced once a week. As I grew older, I started playing games and that helped me understand the philosophy of the sport, and made me feel a part of a real team. As I progressed I became more and more attracted to the sport. I had played many sports, but it was the only one, that had ever challenged me mentally. I loved the complexity, the diverse rules and positions. Now I practice three to four times a week depending on the time of year. There are not many players left playing the sport in our country so, me and my teammates often practice with the Pegasus men’s team, as we have the same coach. It is a lot of fun and helps us improve our skills. Pegasus is the first men’s team that represented Greece in a European Tournament in Prague this year.

As with many amateur athletes, it is sometimes very difficult for me to juggle rigorous softball practice, along with my other personal obligations such as my studies as Mechanical Engineer at the National Technical University of Athens and my work tutoring young students. Sometimes I feel like staying at home, but my coach makes sure that I attend (he makes me drag the field if I don’t!) and at the end of every practice the result is a great workout and good company, which always makes my participation in practices worthwhile. Besides my coach, I have strong support from my family and friends who understand how hard it is to be a good player along with all my other activities and of course encourage me during competitions.

Being a member of the Greek National Team is a great honor. I am lucky to represent my country and have the chance to cooperate with experienced coaches and top athletes. Many members of the National Team are Greek players that practice and play in the US, something which I think is good for our program, because I learn so much from them and because our national team is competitive in tournaments. As I help train my team’s U12 players, I enjoy transmitting that knowledge and experience to the young players that I coach and to the other players on my team. As part of the National team I would like us to do our best in this year’s European Championship and manage to finish in a place that will allow us to participate in the upcoming World Championships, so we can hopefully try and qualify for the Olympic Games.

Finally, playing softball for our National team has helped me make new friends across Europe and the rest of the world and I always enjoy seeing them when we play.

Rania


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