By Amy King
The past two years I have been living and volunteering as a Youth Development Peace Corps volunteer in the small post-soviet country of Azerbaijan. It’s most recent claim to fame is winning the 2011 Eurovision song contest (the American Idol of Europe) with a song called “Running Scared”. Their main sports style is individual, i.e. wrestling, judo and kickboxing. Well, the Peace Corps volunteers in Azerbaijan have decided to teach values such as teamwork, fair play and sportsmanship to the youth we work with by starting a softball league.
As a coach for the past two seasons, I have seen the league grow from four teams to twelve. There are boys and girls playing together in tournaments that are as important to the kids as if they were the World Series. While sportsmanship isn’t always their strongest suit while playing (these kids are super-competitive), the off-the-field friendships these kids have made erases any on-field grudges. Think Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein.
Growing up a playing softball and being a huge Red Sox fan, it is a privilege to be able to teach these kids the game that Americans call their own. The falls season starts this weekend and my fellow coaches and I will be bringing you all the trials and tribulations, smiles and tears, successes and mishaps of this inspiring league. Stay tuned for some very funny stories.