ARLINGTON — The diamond fields of Arlington High School were bustling on the first Saturday of spring break, as AHS Softball conducted a clinic for dozens of girls aged 7-15 through the late morning and early afternoon hours of March 30, for which the weather thankfully cooperated.
AHS Softball Head Coach Dan Eng explained that the $35 fees for T-shirts and water serve as fundraisers for the girls’ softball team, and touted the value of the mentorship that the older girls are able to provide to the younger ones.
“The older girls are just trying to give back,” Eng said. “They remember what they went through when they started out.”
Eng sees such programs as essential in retaining budding softball players before they’re lost to other sports.
“If you lose these girls for even a two-year gap, where their age group is not being catered to, there’s only a 25 percent chance that they’ll come back,” Eng said.
Ashleigh Beard, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School alum who serves as the Arlington JV coach, had plenty of praise for both the students who took on the responsibilities of instructors and those who took time out of their weekends to learn.
“I’m really proud of all of these girls for having fun and being positive,” Beard said. “The older girls are doing a really good job of teaching by breaking down the technical stuff, and the younger girls are being really good about listening and doing what the older girls say.”
“There’s a lot of talent here,” AHS senior Ronnie Ladines said. “Besides grounding them in the basics, I think the biggest benefit of clinics like this is the family atmosphere. We interact like sisters. Seeing these younger girls brings back memories of when I was that little, so when I see that they love softball too, it’s a relief to think they’ll carry it on. If they go with it because they love it, and not because they feel forced into it, they’ll have fun with it.”