The Girls of Summer: Rebellion Women begin 2nd season
In a male-dominated world of professional sports, it can be difficult for young ladies to find role models to inspire them because, let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of professional female athletes. That tide is starting to turn.
Last year, the Rebellion Women’s professional high pitch softball team kicked off their inaugural season at Consol Energy Park in Washington. Bringing together amazing athletes from all over the globe, the Rebellion’s second season began in late May, and the players are looking forward to inspiring girls to follow their dreams during another successful season.
“When you watch, they’re always cheering and they have confidence in their playing,” said Catie Urban, sixth grader at Allison Park Elementary School and member of the Chartiers-Houston Girls Softball Association 12 and under team. Urban is one of many young softball players who attended Rebellion games last season and stayed after the game seeking autographs and getting to know the players.
The fans get a real thrill meeting the players, but the feeling is mutual; the players love their fans.
“I had a couple fans last season that I got really close with,” said Rebellion catcher, Mandy Ogle. “They would be at every game, no matter if I was playing or not, supporting me. It got to the point that I started to look for them in the stands and after games. When it becomes something special like that, it really touches your heart.”
This will be Ogle’s second season with the Pennsylvania Rebellion and she’s excited about returning to the diamond. Catchers are such a critical member of the team, so it’s no surprise Ogle has already amassed quite a following of local fans.
“It pleases me to know girls are yearning to come watch us play,” said Ogle. “I hope [they] know that they can be whoever they want to, do whatever they want. The possibilities are endless because, not long ago, professional softball wasn’t even a thing.”
Professional softball is new to the nation and, to date, there are only a handful of teams the Rebellion play, including the Chicago Bandits, Akron Racers, USSSA Pride, and the brand new Dallas Charge. This small league has a huge heart and it’s apparent on the field. These women are powerhouses, hitting home runs, diving into bases and giving it their all at every game.
One major challenge facing the league is the need for continued growth and expansion. To help achieve this end this year, the Pennsylvania Rebellion will take to the road for games in Lancaster, York and Maurmee, Ohio, trying to drum up interest in those cities in hosting teams of their own.
Ogle isn’t the only player excited about the new season. First year catcher Alexa Peterson was also eager for it to begin.
“The best part is being able to meet new people and learn from them,” said Peterson. “I love being able to expand my knowledge of the game, which is going to help me with my college coaching career. By being traded for a new team, I am now exposed to new coaching styles and philosophies as well as new ways to play the game from my teammates.”
Peterson says she loves the challenges the game presents, whether she’s competing against another team or playing against her teammates during practices, and she especially likes diving for the ball, a frequent occurrence in her role as catcher. She also feels close to the team’s young female fans, and is honored to be a role model for them.
“To be able to continue to still play the game I fell in love with at their age is such a blessing,” said Peterson. “The fact they are coming to watch [the games], even though they don’t know us, is a complete honor.”
For Ogle and Peterson, the seemingly impossible goal they both shared of continuing to play softball after college is alive and well. While they may not take the field to 10,000 screaming fans, earn six figure salaries or drive flashy cars, they’re living a dream to which many of their young fans can aspire.
“As cheesy as it sounds, it’s a dream come true,” said Peterson. “I put in the hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears to play at the highest level of softball, with the ultimate goal of inspiring even one little girl to follow her softball dreams.”
“Every day I get to lace up my cleats and play is an absolute blessing from God,” added Peterson. “So many take this game for granted, not realizing it can be stripped from them in a blink of an eye. I’ve seen too many career ending injuries and the look in the eyes of retired college and professional softball players who would give anything to play one last time. This is what drives me to give everything I have, every practice, every rep, every sprint, every play, every pitch. I have realized what a gift it truly is to get to play this amazing game and I think that is what has gotten me to where I am today and keeps pushing me to be the best softball player I can be. I plan to look back 30 years from now having zero regrets, knowing I gave everything I had to this game.”
This season, there are several new faces on the field, with players hailing from Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Canada.
“This season we have a lot of new players. We are hoping to give off a new vibe and better performance. The only way to see the new us is to come out and watch,” said Ogle.
“I heard once that, ‘You don’t rise to the occasion, but fall to your preparation,’” added Peterson. “We train and practice harder than any team out there, and because of that we are setting ourselves up for success this season.”
Catch the Pennsylvania Rebellion this summer at Consol Energy Park. Tickets, parking and concessions are affordably priced, and it’s a fun family outing.
Beginning this summer, the Pennsylvania Rebellion will host a summer camp for girls during June, July and August.
“By attending, girls will get the opportunity to learn from the players,” said Ogle. “We run the camp. We teach you what we personally know and we are an open book to any questions you may have.”
“Girls should attend because they are going to get one-on-one work with some of the best softball players in the world,” said Peterson.
For more information on games and softball camps, visit www.pennsylvaniarebellion.com
Story by Hayley Martin for Pennsylvania Bridges