SEATTLE — Sunday is often a day of rest, but trailblazers don't sleep in.
Every week, the University of Washington women’s club baseball team meets bright and early at Go Time Athletics in West Seattle to train.
"It feels good obviously physically, but it also feels good to be doing something with a community of girls who all care about the same thing you do, and I think that's really empowering,” said team captain Riley Mehl. “When my alarm goes off at 7 a.m., that's the one thing that keeps me going honestly, is seeing everyone here and growing that community is awesome."
It's the first team of its kind to form in the country, and one of only a handful that exists. Maggie Gallagher is the coach.
"I was always very passionate about baseball and getting myself into baseball, so why not lead other women into the sport?" she said.
Gallagher’s love of the game started young, and she played hardball through eighth grade. Then, she was told baseball was for boys — so she switched to softball.
After high school, she landed a scholarship to UW and appeared in two college world series.
But baseball remained in her heart, and after leaving the softball team to focus more on school she sought out another option. Gallagher joined the university's only club baseball team, and she stood out.
"I was the only woman on the team,” she said, smiling.
The formation of a women’s club team seemed the next logical step and was launched with guidance from national non-profit Baseball For All.
Players like Mehl are grateful. She was an elite softball player in high school and missed competing in college. Joining the baseball team provided an outlet, with extra meaning.
"I was just super excited to not only get back into something that I love but also make a statement and create opportunities and choice for women, so it was all around a really great opportunity,” she said.
Mark Terau, owner of Go Time Athletics, recognizes the team’s impact and potential. He provides the practice space at his indoor training facility free of charge.
“This is another sport (women) can try to get their experience in playing, and why not?” he said. “I think it's important that everyone gets the opportunity to do whatever they want to dream and whatever sport it is to play."
Gallagher’s ultimate dream is for collegiate women's baseball teams to exist. Until then — no matter their record — she sees the club team as a win. So do her players.
"Anything you want to do, you can do, and you should do,” Mehl said.
Last year, the team won the Women's College Club Baseball National Championship, and they'll be defending their title this week in California.
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