Carmel Academy seventh graders Francesca Margolius and Nili Sprecher had been playing on the school’s baseball team for a number of years. As the only girls on the all-boys team, and with their growing interest for the American pastime, the two young athletes decided it was time for a league of their own.
They took that dream and made it reality, launching Carmel Academy’s first-ever softball team. The team of 10 Carmel Academy girls took to the softball diamond for their inaugural game in mid-April.
“We thought starting our own team might make the other girls feel more comfortable to try something new and it gives us an outlet for our own sport,” said Francesca, the team’s pitcher.
Nili, the team’s shortstop, said they did face some challenges getting the team off the ground.
“Most of the girls on the team have never played,” she said. However that didn’t deter the duo from recruiting members. During recess, Nili said she and Francesca made the rounds, speaking with their peers about the sport and drumming up interest. With a clipboard in hand, they slowly started building a roster. By the time the spring season hit, they had a full team.
“We both really appreciate that our teammates went out of their comfort zone to try something new,” Francesca said.
Classmate and first base player Sophie Citron said she didn’t hesitate to sign up when she found out about the new Carmel sports team. “I love trying new things, especially sports, because you learn new skills that you didn’t even know you were good at.”
The team plays within the Fairchester Athletic League, competing with other private schools throughout Fairfield and Westchester Counties. The inaugural game against Sacred Heart was a day that Francesca and Nili say they will never forget.
“Everyone was excited, but it is safe to say we were also nervous. It was our first game and we are all new to the sport. As the game went on it got easier and easier,” Francesca said.
Nili added that a big reason their nerves subsided was a surprise on the sidelines—members of their former all-boys baseball team took time away from their practice to come cheer them on.
“I am so proud of these pioneering athletes,” said Carmel Academy’s Athletic Director Philip Goldberg. “Their determination and commitment has created another milestone for the Carmel sports program. I am really proud of this founding team; their enthusiasm is contagious and with some strong coaching they will create a legacy that other girls will benefit from in years to come.”