playing to win
“Well, bite my butt and call me an apple! She nearly took her head off!”–Announcer, “A League of Their Own“
Sometimes, when you become part of someone else’s family, you get more than you bargained for. I absolutely did. And in the best of ways. Because along with Al and the Williams family, I chanced into a storybook legacy that’s a parallel “League of Their Own.”
Front and center in the adventure…no, make that “immediately behind home plate”…is his sister Lois. Growing up in Tempe, AZ, in the 1940s, Lois was a triple-threat girl–beautiful, smart and an athlete gifted in virtually every sport she encountered. By her early teens, she was traveling summers with the semi-pro softball team the A-1 Queens. Enrolling at ASU, she lettered in golf, softball, tennis and volleyball–one of only a handful of athletes to do so.
And she kept playing and traveling with the Queens. (Side story: When her little brother Al’s grade-school class was tasked with a report on “Family Souvenirs,” he excitedly shared about the great hotel towel collection they had, courtesy of his sister’s team. The teacher responded with one of his first formal lectures on ethics. 😉 )
In the 50s, Lois was one of an elite team that journeyed to Japan and other Pacific Rim points for a series of games challenging U.S. troop teams. It was then she met Hap, a stellar player from Vancouver, who would become her life partner. We celebrated their 50th anniversary in Arizona the year before Lois passed.
First lesson of hanging out with the Williams is that there WILL be a game of some kind on television and they WILL be watching, cheering, hassling each other in great fun, calling up past memories and generally having a great time. Enough so that this very non-competitive, non-athletic girl enjoys being part of it.
So, given all that, let’s just say that the phone lines between Colorado, Arizona and Oregon–where Hap and her partner Babe live (yep, another softball player!) live–have been busy this past week as the top-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils played in–and won–the 2011 NCAA Women’s College World Championship.
We all surmise that Lois probably provided some heavenly coaching, just as she did in 1964–the year the photo above was shot–when she coached the Erv Lind Florists of Portland to a winning performance in the Amateur Softball Association World Championship in Orlando.
Gotta love those girls who play to win.