In 2016 the Ugandan national softball team had the opportunity to travel to the world championships in Surrey, BC.
With that connection made, in December of 2019, a small group of softball enthusiasts had a very unique opportunity – travelling across the world for the sake of growing the game. The trip, organized by UBCO head softball coach Joni Frei, spanned just under two weeks and involved travelling to Uganda, Africa to bring large amounts of donated equipment and a love of softball to share with players from Uganda and Kenya.
During the trip, I did not know personally what to expect. Travelling to a foreign country is scary on its own but doing so with a group of relative strangers was even more intimidating. All we had in common was a love of the game and a mutual connection to coach Frei. Throughout the two-week-long trip, we were able to see and experience things that few people ever do and were able to really engage in the local culture.
Aside from the interactions with locals, the softball we got to experience was incredible. Despite being more than 13,000 km away from our homes, the passion and love for softball was the same if not stronger. The athletes were all extremely receptive and naturally gifted. Most importantly, they all were brought together from different backgrounds by the sport. Not only players were brought together by the trip, but also umpires, coaches, and even one little girl who wanted to pursue scorekeeping. For many of these women, softball is their only opportunity to leave their town. For this reason, it is extremely important to support the continual growth and empowerment of these women as they pursue softball throughout their lives.
The trip with Beyond the White Lines 'Grow the Game' was a perfect example of how a small idea can have a large impact on the lives of many people. We may have gone into the trip as a group of strangers, but we left it with friendships and connections that transcend borders.
~ Emily Hartley, UBCO Softball