When we found out that one of our Bellalete Team members went to The Gambia to coach softball for Run The Bases we couldn't wait to hear all about it. Keep reading to find out more about Brooklynn's lifechanging experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Brookelynn Garcia. I’m from Torrance California and I currently go to and pitch at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. When High School softball was almost over, I was sure that I was done with softball forever. Film school is what I wanted to do. Until our coach at the time at the University Sara Shaw talked me into dropping film school and giving softball another chance. It was the best decision ever!
What motivated you to travel to Africa and coach?
What motivated me to go to The Gambia with Run The Bases was hearing about what they’re all about and what they do for everyone out there! Reading stories, hearing stories, and keeping up with them made me want to go out and do the same!
Tell us a little bit about Run The Bases?
Run The Bases
is a nonprofit organization and an opportunity to run, catch, and throw for all! Co-Founded by the AMAZING Tara Henry.
What are the top three things you learned and will take away with you as you go back to Maine for College Softball Season?
I learned so much on my trip. Everyone out there is absolutely amazing and I had the best time with the kids, coaches, and our RTB team! One thing that I realized is that we tend to take things for granted. And sometimes even the game of softball where we play is taken for granted. After seeing these kids all week and watching the play and always giving 110% in everything they did while on “ The Pitch” I started to notice that some kids the same age here in America, wouldn’t do the same. These kids and coaches have the bare minimum to practice softball/baseball/streetball BUT they make it work and they do the most amazing job at it!!
Anything else you want to share about your Africa trip?
On my trip, I learned how to be kinder, patient, open-hearted, and how to love harder! I can’t wait to take back all of this to Maine with me and apply it on the field and to my girls!
I went to Africa determined to make a difference and that I did! While I was there I taught the coaches and kids all how to pitch! Within the second day of doing pitching drills, ALL the kids and coaches got it down, it was amazing. One moment and my favorite moment that I will forever remember was during one of the games a ball was hit to one of the kids at 3rd Base and he dove so far on his stomach and caught the ball for the out!! I had to walk away from the field and sooner or later some tears started to come out because of how proud of him I was and everyone for everything they’re accomplishing! We had yet to teach them how to dive or what diving is. So to see this was absolutely amazing!
What are your favorite memories of Rec and Travel softball?
Rec ball and travel ball were some of the best years of my life! That’s where I met all of my friends and made the best memories. Just playing with your friends and also traveling with them was what made everything so memorable.
What have been your biggest challenges in softball and how did you overcome?
My biggest challenge in softball was definitely my confidence. Growing up I used to get a lot of “ she can’t” “ she won’t make it “ “ she is done after highschool “. At one point those negative comments got into my head and I was thinking that they were probably right. But after my phone call with my University Coach at the time, I told myself I was going to go out to Maine to play college softball and I was going to prove everyone wrong! 3 years later I’m still playing college softball, I was Rookie of the Year, it’s my second year being captain, I’ve got to travel all over the East Coast to play, and I was sent out to Africa to coach and share my knowledge of the game to everyone out there!! My advice to everyone is to never give up!! And to prove all of those negative people wrong. If you believe, you can achieve anything!
What do you want to accomplish in 2020, your top 3 goals?
Some goals I want to accomplish in 2020 is to improve my pitching, some tweaks I have from last season that need to be improved on for this upcoming season as my team and I want to take the Championship home this year!! I want to be kinder, and be more open to people. And I want to also return to The Gambia in December with RTB!!!
All of this has happened to the thanks of Natasha Watley! Summer of 2019 she posted that she needed coaches over the summer for the Natasha Watley Foundation. I was in the office with Savana when this happened and I absolutely freaked because I have loved Natasha since I was 8. The ultimate fan girl you could say. So I contacted her and said I would love to coach for her foundation and later I got a message back saying she would love to have me!! What we do for NWF is to create opportunities for underserved communities to learn and play the game of softball! I had the most amazing time last summer and of course, can’t wait to continue this summer! Natasha was the one who sent me out to Africa as NWF works with RTB. I was so honored she chose me to go out there to represent NWF! Dreams do some come true!
And of course, I had to rock my Bellalete Pants while I was out there, all of the kids and coaches loved them!
Thank you, Brooklynn, for filling us in. We want to learn more about Run The Bases and Natasha Watley Foundation. In the meantime, enjoy your spring season at UMPI!
Images 1,2, and 4 are by Caylee Hankins, see more by Caylee @alittlepickmeup