What started a year ago as five little girls from Crozet who wanted to play softball has evolved into 28 girls, six coaches and two full teams. After reading an email sent to some local moms asking if there was any interest in forming a Crozet team, Kimberly Gale told her then-15-year-old daughter Ashley about the little girls without a coach. “I’ll do it,” Ashley volunteered.
Until that day, Ashley Gale had been a softball player, but never a coach. She started in a local recreation league at age eight and eventually played travel ball with the Crozet-based “Redbirds” team.
“There is a need for rec league softball in Crozet,” said Gale. “I had noticed a sharp decline in the number of girls coming up from the recreation leagues in the past few years. It seemed like the girls who had the resources to play travel ball were the only ones excelling in the sport,” she said. Western Albemarle High School has gone from two teams, varsity and junior varsity, to only one team and barely enough players to field that team, she said. “It is because there has not been a feeder program,” Gale said.
Gale now coaches for the Jefferson Area Girls Softball League, also known as JAGS, which is affiliated with Little League in Charlottesville. She is responsible for coaching the age 9-10 Crozet team.
She stepped in to coach the fledging team last spring. “I wanted to bring girls’ softball to Crozet at an entry level. I wanted to teach them how much fun the sport can be and part of that fun is getting girls from the same school playing together from a young age.”
Once the team had a coach, word spread fast and finding enough girls to fill the first team in 2012 was easy. Gale remembers naming that team, which was sponsored by Denise Ramey Realty. “I wanted to give our team a meaningful name, one that would give the team purpose. So I decided on the Crozet Little Warriors in hopes that one day these girls will be playing for my high school team.”
The “Crozet Little Warriors” love having Gale to look up to and a powerful bond that has formed between Gale and the girls over the past two years. “The girls look up to her as a mentor in a way that they probably wouldn’t look up to a parent-coach,” said Kimberly Gale.
Sarah Tesoriere’s daughter Bella is a part of the Crozet Little Warriors. “Ashley is a leader and a positive role model for these girls,” said Tesoriere. “The team, players and parents alike adore her. She leads by example, teaching the girls about character, sportsmanship and the fundamentals of the game.”
The JAGS league, which began in 2010, allowed Crozet to form teams starting with the spring 2012 season. JAGS president Michael Kane and Crozet team manager Kimberly Gale secured field time in Crozet for all practices and home games played throughout the seasons.
“Being able to play in Crozet makes a big difference to parents in our area when they sign their kids up to play sports” said Kimberly Gale. This year the 9-10 Crozet team (made up entirely of Brownsville students) was able to practice after school across the street at WAHS. The age 7-8 Crozet team practiced on the field behind Crozet Elementary School. The Crozet Little Warriors’ home games (the season has 12 games) were played on Sunday afternoons at the WAHS varsity softball field. Charlottesville teams are coming to Crozet every week to play.
Eleven of the original 14 girls who played on the first team in 2012 returned for the second season. All but one moved up to the next level, 9-10, and Gale had to form two teams for the 2013 season.
“We passed out 1,000 flyers to the three local elementary schools and Henley,” she said. They held three registration nights in January and 26 girls signed up. Three new coaches agreed to take on a second team. Coaches Larry Miles, Julie Smith and Susan Cohen took on the 7-8 level players and fielded a team that made Crozet proud. Coaches Mike Mills, Todd Foster and Lee Gale assisted Ashley Gale with the 9-10 level team.
New teams will be formed as needed in order to allow every interested girl in Crozet to play softball, Gale said. If you are interested in playing or coaching girls’ softball in Crozet, send an email to: [email protected] or [email protected].