BY KAYLA LOKEINSKY
The Cooper City High School girl’s varsity softball team takes the field for their first home game of the season with their spirits high. As the inning begins, they shout words of encouragement. Phrases like “you got this,” and “let’s go ladies,” can be heard from all nine players on the diamond. Even the players on the bench jump up in excitement when the pitcher strikes a batter out or when the outfielder dives for a ball. With all the camaraderie, you would expect that these girls have been playing softball together since they were strong enough to pick up a bat. However, most of these girls play on rival teams during the offseason, constantly competing against each other. While this type of rivalry among players may be tough, the CCHS softball team handles it with ease, which enables them to make the transition from enemies to teammates.
The Cowboys have been working tirelessly every day in hopes of having a winning season. However, after they leave the CCHS softball field, they all go to separate travel practices. Travel softball teams are made up of girls from different schools. While some of the Cowboys are on the same travel team, the majority of them play against each other.
“Most of us have been playing softball together since we were little,” junior Shannon Allen said. “Now that we’re older, we’ve all gone to separate parks to try and find the teams that will give us the best opportunities.”
Since the CCHS softball team has girls that play for travel teams all over Broward County, they are constantly competing against each other in tournaments. From the Pembroke Pines Diamond Dusters to the Gold Coast Hurricanes, the girls are spread all over the state and are forced to become rivals, which can lead to some intense competition.
“Sometimes it gets tense playing against each other,” Allen said. “There is always the competition there.”
With the constant rivalry, it’s expected that coming together as one team can be hard. However, the Cowboys make it look easy, and they even embrace the opposing perspectives on the game that each player brings.
“It’s hard making a bunch of different players come together,” sophomore Megan Isoba said. “But it’s good to play with different people because it helps you learn from each other. These girls are like my family, so the rivalries aren’t too bad.”
Even the CCHS softball head coach, Phil Schmaltz, has become a part of this competition. As the Cowboys coach as well as a coach for the Pembroke Pines travel team, he must be able to switch his strategies in order to make both of his teams successful.
“Sometimes there are issues with coaching both teams,” Schmaltz said. “It doesn’t bother me though. I’m equally invested in both of my teams.”
Even though it is a challenge to be able to go from playing on the same team to playing against each other, the CCHS softball team does it with ease. Through their camaraderie, teamwork and pure love for the sport, the Cowboys can easily make the transition from enemies to teammates.