Like any other typical 15-year-old, you expect to see conversations of social media, wardrobe discussions, high level congratulations here and there. Yet there is so much more to these players on GA Power. “In our dugout it is an escape from so much more. Our girls come to escape bullying, adversities at home, Type 1 Diabetes, auto-immune disease and even cancer,” says coach Jose Tunon. These girls build a bond not just because of their on-field play, but because of their adversity. We looked into a few individual girls’ stories and asked them what the term “sanctuary” meant to them.
Our story starts with #9 Sophie Baker, a catcher whose competitive nature surpasses even her Dexcom ® monitors advice when alerting her blood sugar is low. Beyond her astonishing ability to manager her pitchers as a veteran and a Howitzer for an arm, she brandishes her monitor on the back of her left arm. Sophie battles Type 1 Diabetes, 24 hours a day with 7 shots a day. Her frustrations melt away with flight of thought when she nestles in ready to receive her called pitch from the other half of the battery. She hopes to show all young ladies with Type 1 Diabetes that they too can accomplish so much more than what they may believe is possible."A sanctuary is defined as a place of refuge or safety. In my opinion, a “sanctuary” is something that helps you forget or gets you away from all the terrible things in not only your life, but the world in general. Some of my sanctuaries would be listening to music or writing a story, but my main one would have to be softball. When I’m on the field, laughing with my friends, I forget about the headache I have from my blood sugar being high all night and all I think about is the game. The single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is play a softball game right after my coach told me one of my close guy friends had killed himself. But when I look back, it would have been worse if we didn’t play the game because for a split second while we were playing, I forgot about it. So even though softball causes me to have broken bones and bruises on my legs, it’s my sanctuary. I wouldn’t be sane without it." - Sophie Baker
Earlier this year, #3 Sierra had to face something no youth should ever experience. After the suicide of one of her best friends, Sierra, devastated beyond recall found an outlet in the dirt. When asked to define the word “Sanctuary” her answer is poignant and powerful."A sanctuary is defined as a safe place, a place that you can go when you are feeling down or when life just hits you hard with something you’ve never experienced before. It’s a place that gives you support and comfort. My sanctuary is my softball team. They are not just a team, but a family. On August 27, I lost one of my best friends to suicide. It was the worst day of my life. It took me many weeks to recover, and quite honestly, I still am trying to heal. I had four classes with him, and I knew him so well. I knew him since 6th grade and I told him everything. It was so hard, and everyone was trying to console me. My teammates helped me so much even though we weren’t in season. They called me and texted me to make sure I was ok. I wasn’t, but they made me feel safe. Coach Jose and Coach Eric were a big part of that too. They were always checking on me and cheering me up. They helped me get through one of the most emotionally draining things in my life. I’m forever thankful for having an outlet to go to when I need it the most." - Sierra Paradis
Ansley Chiang #8 has probably the best footwork GAPower has ever seen in an infielder and can change a game on her own defensively. This year she watched her mother be diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer. Her mother was unable to attend her daughters games while she recovered each week from severe doses of chemotherapy. Through hair loss, fear of uncertainty and struggling to focus at school, she made every practice to see her sisters of the dirt. Every at-bat, ground ball, and meeting in the circle brought Ansley solace.
“The field is my sanctuary because I know that when I step onto the dirt, I can let go of everything and play the game I love with the people I love. I can always lean on softball to act as a safe place amid a storm. This team is truly a family and our passion and commitment can transport every one of us to a place away from all our struggles.” - Ansley Chiang
GA Power also has young ladies that have dealt with bullying at the harshest of amplitudes. Victoria Tunon #2 has the innate ability to steal strike with some of the smoothest glove work you can find. She has dealt with bullying through social media, school and even in her neighborhood. It has impacted self-confidence, self-worth, ability and academics. Yet again, joining their teammates where their social persecutions go away and their ability in the dirt is elite, providing a comfort only known to the few that play the game.
Victoria knows all too well the need for a place to come where she is surrounded by her teammates. She sent her own version of the game being her sanctuary.
“This team has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I feel like I can be myself without being judged. Every Tuesday and Thursday are the best days of my week. Some of the things that these girls have been through have inspired me to be the best version of myself that I can be. They are an outlet for me. Last year, I was bullied. People told me I wasn’t good enough, but this team told me otherwise. I was in a very bad place, and I didn’t know what to do. Softball was an outlet for me to go to where I could let out my stress and anger. All of them helped me through it, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I don’t know where I would be today without them. This isn’t just a team that meets a few times a week, this is a family that checks in on each other and love each other. #gapfamilia” -Victoria Tunon
Hannah Forbes #99 is a middle infielder that simply fun to watch play the game with her glove work and softball IQ. She was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, an auto-immune disease that she is learning to combat.Worry follows her ignorance of the disease as it is so new to her. As her mother battles brain lesions with possible multiple sclerosis, she lets her focus on the game and her teammates distract the worry that lingers.
When Hannah was asked to send her relation of the word Sanctuary to Coach Jose, her answer was heartfelt.“My team is a sanctuary because it is a safe place for me, and it is an escape from anything going on. It is a place and a group that I can go to and feel at my best. I can let go of my worries and just be with my best friends playing the game we love the most. And with that, they give me more support than anything through everything. Even though I see them more than anybody else, I look forward to being with them every single time because I feel safe with them. This team is such a special group, and the relationships we have do not come around often. I have been blessed to be a part of something so great.”
What does the word "sanctuary" mean to you and your team?
"A sanctuary is a safe place. Our team should be a safe place where nothing else matters outside of the softball field. To me, my team and my teammates are a sanctuary. I can go to anyone including the coaches and I feel safe and supported. And i know on the field that they have my back and I have theirs." -McKinsey Ingle
"Our team is a sanctuary to me because it is a safe place where I can put away all my troubles and worries and just enjoy time with my teammates playing the sport I love." -Maura McBreen
"The word sanctuary means a place of refuge or safety. This team is kind of like a sanctuary to me because I know I can be myself without judgement whether I’m on the field or not. I know I can go to people on the team that can help me solve my problems and I know the coaches look out for me also." -Alena Ball
"The word sanctuary relates to my team because both of them I feel comfortable with. When I’m at church I can ask God for help and I can ask anything from my girls. When I’m at school I always look forward to going to practice because I get to see my best friends. My teammates aren’t just any teammates they are my family. The bond I have with my team is like no other. I’ve never been on a team as close as the one I’m on now." -Macy Hamby
"The meaning of sanctuary to me as it relates to the team is , it is a safe place for us to cope with each other and it is a place we’re we don’t have to try and fit in. We can let our guard down and not worry about what they think of us. This team is an amazing sanctuary because we all genuinely love each other and feel safe around each other and don’t feel betrayed by any little thing. Because in the long run we’re all there for the same goal so we all motivate each other." -Brianna Deleon
"Sanctuary means a place of refuge or safety and I think that our team is a sanctuary to everyone involved in the team. It is a place where we can have fun with each other and work hard. Everyone is able to come to practice for 2 hours and, even if they had a bad day, they can hang out with 15 of their best friends. This team is a place where everyone is welcome and no one is judged or left out, and throughout the years we have been able to create our own sanctuary." -Hayden Gardner
Each girl in GA Power uses the game as a sanctuary from their own perspective. They all have their own situations, their own roles, their own drive. The culture created within the team is built to support each one and is based on family above all. The motto #GAPfamilia reigns important for the group, a Latin spin from Jose’s Panamanian roots. Every player and coach treat one another as extended family. It is with this mindset and attitude that GA Power continues to exemplify that softball really is more than just a game. It is safe to say that girls like this and teams like this truly are #softballstrong. They join Ringor in believing that softball can change lives.
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