Diversity in Softball Panel : Part II

Fastpitch Network Diversity Series

by Maren Angus – Fastpitch Network

A couple weeks ago, we introduced our Diversity in Softball panel featuring six very different personalities in our game.

As we continue the conversation this week, the questions get a little tougher.

As a minority, softball has not grown much in terms of inclusiveness or being welcoming. Players/Coaches before you have experienced the same things and players/coaches after you have also experienced the same things. Do you think this will ever change?

Fastpitch Network Diversity Series
Diversity Series Panel

Panel Members: Rajaa Wilcox (Howard), Christian Conrad (Florida State), Dr. Dot Richardson of Liberty, Tamara Statman of the Israeli National Team, Jessie Scroggins of Black Girls Ball, and Libby Sugg (BYU)

RW: In my opinion, I do not think that softball has grown very much in terms of inclusiveness or being welcoming.  NCAA’s student-athlete demographics show that in 2018 less than six percent of softball players were Black female athletes. I think what keeps softball from being more inclusive is how costly it can be to play the game at an elite level. Buying the proper equipment (helmet, glove bat, cleats, batting gloves, balls, etc.) alone can prove to be very expensive. Due to this, the sport is only accessible to those who are privileged enough to afford it and this creates the gap we see in the diversity of softball.

TS: Humans are very interesting because they try to form groups with people who are like them. Jews in particular are very much like this because anytime we meet another Jewish person there’s an instant connection that other people just don’t understand. I have certainly spent my time being in the out group, but it wasn’t because I was Jewish; it was because I was really weird and misunderstood as a kid. Actually, now that I’m thinking about a racial divide, in college for my first two years there certainly was one. It was clear. However, my last two years the gap was closed when it came to “in-groups” or mentioning people are a certain race. It was really refreshing and I really do have hope that inclusiveness is on the rise for teams. 

JS: I’m not sure if softball will ever change. I think the first problem is people don’t understand the words inclusive and diverse. Because many people don’t understand them, they are misused. It is important to know that just because a sport is diverse does not mean it is inclusive. To help implement change, we need to understand what needs to be changed. What change looks like for me is having more minorities in head coaching positions, having more minorities at PWI’s, having those uncomfortable conversations with people to help them understand what needs to happen for change to occur. 

CC: Since I can only answer based off my personal experience, I would have to say I disagree with the notion that there has not been growth in our sport, in regards to inclusiveness when it comes to the LGBTQA community. With that said, I do not want to discredit the experiences of others and the discrimination they may face. In regards to the LGBTQA community, I do believe that there have been strides to promote equality and acceptance compared to just a decade ago. I do believe that for this change to continue it is my duty to live my most authentic self. To show others that it is possible to be successful in our sport while living your true self.

LS: I pray with my whole heart that it does. One of the greatest parts about living in America in my opinion is the diversity we have. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and I think that’s amazing. The only problem though is there is still separation and tension between those different groups. It makes me sick that some people can’t see each other as complete equals. We should love each other for our individuality. I hope that with everything that has been going on that a change is and will come. 

DR.: I have seen TREMENDOUS change with inclusion, with more opportunities from female athletes and coaches, especially since Title IX was implemented. There are more players of color participating in our sport.  There are huge changes seen in this area as I have experienced in almost five decades. Sometimes we have a narrow focus looking back over few years or even a decade, however, if we step back and learn about history and from history we see productive changes in our sport and society.

Have you taken the steps to make the sport more inclusive or are you not affected?  Are you reaching out to others to become more educated?

RW: I think the biggest thing that black players in softball can do right now to make our sport more inclusive is keep doing them and working to be the best athlete they can. Representation is a powerful thing, and you never know who you could be inspiring by just showing up ready to play every day. Being a player at Howard University, my whole team volunteers at the local Youth Academy to help spread baseball and softball to kids in underserved communities in D.C. It is important that we be visible and involved so that we are people that the next generation of athletes can look up to so that they may fill our places. 

TS: I was always very curious about my other teammates and their religions or cultures or anything else in between. I probably asked too many questions that may have pushed the envelope, but I was always an open book on what people could ask. I just wanted to learn about why people do things. I always appreciated Alyssa Palomino and our talks on religion. It’s important to respect people, you may not have to like them, but it’s important to give everyone respect because everyone can bring something to the table. 

JS: I would like to think I am taking the steps to help softball become more inclusive. It is one of the reasons why I want to become a softball coach. Like I said last week, representation matters and I need to give the little girls who look like me some hope. Some current/former players created a group named BGB (Black girls ball). The idea is to create a safe space for little black girls while educating nonblack people on what’s its like to be black in softball. We want to educate, create allies and help make our sport more diverse. 

CC: I have become more willing to have the hard conversations needed that involve gender discrimination, race, and sexuality in the past few months. Once you realize that your truth is not the only truth you are able to listen to people to try to understand them instead of needing to respond. I’ve learned that I don’t have to have all of the answers. But being willing to learn and be accepting of others ideals and experiences helps me become more inclusive. If you want our community to progress you must be the change yourself.

LS: I try everywhere I go to tell people about being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It’s something I’m proud of and in a way, I like that I’m different from most. When I talk to some people about it I get a cold shoulder but I don’t let it bother me. I usually find that people just have one mindset about us and it’s that we aren’t Christians. I usually just giggle and say, “Well, Jesus Christ is literally in our name soooo…”

There’s a lot of misconceptions on what the Book of Mormon is and it is just another book with more proof and stories of Jesus Christ. That’s all it is. When you wear BYU on your chest people immediately get curious and want to know more. 

DR.: As often as possible I speak about utilizing the gifts God has given and seizing the opportunities before us!  No one is going to do it for you.  You have to want to make the change in your life which will in turn impact the lives of others.  People respect those who are servant-hearted with the mind-set of a champion within. If we live our lives to training to be a champion for Christ, our best is good enough and the change will happen.

Did you ever lose a starting spot or been cut because of your gender, religious affiliate or color of your skin?

RW: Luckily, I don’t believe that I ever lost a starting spot or been cut because of my religious affiliation or color of my skin.

TS: No and I really hope that is not something that other people have to deal with. 

JS: I am not sure honestly. 

CC: I personally have not lost a job or playing position because I am a member of the LGBTQA community. However, I do know of other gay men in our sport that were not allowed to date openly and remain a member of their college softball organization.

LS: No, I have not but I do believe that if I hadn’t made the decision not to play on Sundays that I would have. Growing up, travel softball was quite literally my job. In most jobs, if you have to perform and be at work for the weekend and you tell them one of those days you can’t be there, you probably wouldn’t get hired or be let go eventually. I also know that I probably wouldn’t have been the player I was if I hadn’t played on Sundays. 

DR.: No, however as a young girl growing up in the 60’s, I was not allow to play organized sports because of being a girl. However, a day in 1971, that all changed and my path in sports began.

If there is something important happening during the season (holiday, family event) how do you approach that conversation? For coaches, have you had a player approach you about something that you dont practice? How did you handle that conversation?

RW: If there is ever an important event that happens during the season, the best thing I found for me to do is just give ample time to notify coaches and most will be pretty understanding of the situation and work something out.  

TS: To continue my Yom Kippur story, basically we just went to Coach’s office and said “Hey Coach, so the holiest day of the year is Yom Kippur. It’s this date, so can we miss practice because we will be fasting for 25 hours?”. Coach is a religious man, so he understood the importance of this holiday to the Jews, so we were in a very lucky situation. I also had to ask our Director of Operations for special food requests when we were traveling during Passover. It was also during Lent, so she had a lot going on with the food situation, but she did everything in her power to make sure I was accommodated. 

JS: Don’t think that’s happened, yet.

CC: I wouldn’t say that being gay coincides with attending specific events instead of softball. But being able to miss practices for personal days or for your well being should not be frowned upon. Sometimes our personal life does effect how we play and perform on the field. So being able to have an open dialogue about how life is going outside of softball is vital.

DR.: For me, and I pray it is the same for you, God is number one in our lives, Family is number two so when there is something important with God and family those come first over the sport.  

Did you ever quit, change schools or switch teams because of ignorance? (I think that is the word to use).

TS: No. I do have something slightly related though. My freshman year of college, I was out at night and when I came back to the dorm, my bed was flipped with a swastika made of paper on it and the person put goldfish in my pillow. It was another athlete and I handled it, but it was something horrific to come home to. 

JS: I played for a team a long time ago and I wanted to move up in age. I went and tried out for the 18u within the organization. The coach said I didn’t make it although it was clear I should have. I ended up leaving that team because it did feel I didn’t make it because of ignorance.

CC: I no longer seek out playing men’s fastpitch as much as I did in the past.  In my experience, I have played on teams that have made me feel uncomfortable not being able to live my true self openly. With that said, I have found other ways to still enjoy the game of softball while maintaining an environment of acceptance. By no means do I see myself as a victim in this scenario. I feel as if the women’s side has been nothing but accepting towards me.

LS: I have not thankfully. I always tried to educate my teams about my beliefs so that they never thought I was different. I mean I grew up in the heart of the bible belt. There was a lot of discrimination among my church and sideways looks simply because people thought they knew everything about us. I didn’t want that with my team because they were like sisters to me. 

DR.: No.

Diversity in Softball Panel: Part I

Fastpitch Network Diversity Series

by Maren Angus – Fastpitch Network

On Wednesday, Fastpitch Network introduced its Diversity in Softball panel. Each person on the panel was asked to answer the same questions.

The questions were asked to bring awareness and to have those tough conversations.

Editor’s Note: Fastpitch Network (FPN), Dot Richardson (Dr.), Tamara Statman (TS), Jessie Scroggins (JS), Rajaa Wilcox (RW), Christian Conrad (CC) and Libby Sugg (LS).

Fastpitch Network Diversity Series
Diversity Series Panel

FPN: Knowing that you are a minority in the sport in some way, have you felt that you represent only yourself or have you felt that you represent all who may be like you?

Dr.: As a young girl, I was denied the opportunity to play sports on any organized team because of being a girl.  I often asked the Lord, “Why did you give me this talent in sports with no opportunity to play?” 

Those were words of a child because I didn’t know what the future would hold. At 10 years old, I would have had to disguised myself as a boy in order to play Little League Baseball. I refused to do so because I didn’t want to hide who I am to express the gifts God has given me. I trusted His plan for my life. Then 30 minutes later another coach asked me to play for her fastpitch softball team; the Union Park Jets; a women’s class A team with the average age around twenty-two. A few years later I became the youngest girl to play in the Women’s Major League, College, and for the USA National Softball Team at international competitions including the Pan American Games, World Championships and Olympics.

TS: Most of the time, I was the only Jewish person and a lot of people never really knew someone else who was Jewish. In a sense, I was people’s first exposure to the holidays or customs. I had to answer a lot of well-meaning questions based simply off people not knowing. 

JS: Being Black, I used to represent myself because I didn’t understand the importance of representation. When I first got into softball, I played because it was fun, but, then I began to notice that I tended to be the only Black girl on my team. It was weird but then I kind of got used to it. I became accustomed to the micro-aggressions and how I had to work harder than everyone else just to be seen.

Then I realized, because I am the only black girl, it’s not about me anymore. I am playing for the other young Black girls who feel the same way I do and the ones who don’t have the chance to play the sport or don’t even realize the sport exists.

I started to understand representation matters. I represent myself, the Black community and I need to take pride in who I am. I need to make sure I am holding myself to a higher standard which would make my community of people proud. 

RW: As a Black Muslim athlete who wears a hijab, it is rare for me to come across other athletes who look like me. This is not only true in the softball world, but, also, in the wider sports community.

From a young age I was aware that my presence on the field was something that instantly attracted people’s eyes and gave me a lot more attention than my peers. When you know that all eyes are on you simply because at first glance you appear different from everyone else, it is hard not to feel like you are representing more than just yourself.

There is a feeling of added pressure or responsibility to perform well because I want to challenge the misconceptions and stereotypes that people have about athletes who look like me. Being that I know I am the first black hijabi athlete that most people see and, at the same time, I want to serve as an example for younger girls like me so they know they can play softball too. 

CC: As a member of the LGBTQ community, I don’t believe that I can represent the entire community, but I can definitely empathize with the struggles that other LGBTQ members face both on and off the field. I do believe that there is an inherently different experience for gay men and lesbian women in our sport.

As a gay man, I will never truly understand the lesbian experience in a female sport. But on a fundamental level, I do know what it feels like to feel different simply because of the person I love. Additionally, I would like to recognize while I am a minority, I do have privilege in that I can conceal my identity if I feel uncomfortable living my authentic self around others. People included in racial minority groups are not able to have this luxury. However, I do feel it is my duty to live my most authentic life to help other LGBTQ members see that their life is valid and meaningful.

LS: I would say that I represent all who may be like me. Growing up in the Latter Day Saints church you are taught that Sunday is a day of rest. You are supposed to go to church, then come home and spend time with family. We don’t usually spend money on Sundays because we see it as making other people work and not letting them use their day of rest.

When I started playing travel softball, I never really got to go to church. We played and traveled every weekend so there was no possible way to go. In Utah, travel ball is much different. Most sports don’t play on Sundays because the state is primarily LDS. I knew at a young age that in order to keep up my faith and be the good member I wanted to be, I had to do the work outside of church. With that being said, I felt some judgement from some members of my ward for not going to church every Sunday. I feel like overall, I represent a lot of girls in the church that sacrifice church on Sunday to play. I knew that in order to to perform at the highest level, I would have to dedicate my life to softball. When I went to BYU, I really got put on a pedestal. Not only were girls looking up to me, every single BYU fan was watching us. All eyes are on you ALL THE TIME. But, I loved it. I loved playing for BYU because wherever we went, we always had fans. It was the coolest university to be a part of because our fan base is literally everywhere. Some games we would have more fans and we were playing at their home field.

FPN: Do you think people in softball are helping to make the sport more inclusive?

If yes, provide examples. If no, why do you think there is prevention to make the sport more inclusive?

Dr.: Yes, you see more young girls playing the sport than ever before from every ethnic group and walk of life. Title IX, college scholarships, televised youth, college and international games, as well as, participation in the Olympic Games are examples of the efforts of many people to enhance the exposure and availability to participate in the sport of softball.

TS: It all depends on where you live and the demographics of that area when it comes to inclusivity. I hope there’s a way to give more access to low or no-cost equipment to kids who need it. Money should not be a barrier for a kid who loves a sport. For a case study, when it comes to Jews in sports: In Beverly Hills, there’s a Little League that’s popular with the Jewish kids. It doesn’t seem like a lot of them move onto travel ball, either because the talent isn’t there and/or because of Shabbat restrictions (which is every Friday night to Saturday night and work is forbidden). I’ve heard stories of kids biking to games because they can’t drive on Shabbat, there’s ways around it if the league is close enough. However, travel ball is not ideal for the religious kids. 

JS: As much as I want to say people are making softball a more inclusive sport, there has not been enough progress for me to say yes. Black players before me and Black players after me are sharing the same horror experiences we face playing this sport. People assume that because softball has more diversity, the sport is more inclusive and that’s a major misunderstanding that needs to be addressed. Too many people want us to simply be happy that there’s more color but they aren’t taking time to understand the hardships that come with it.

RW: I think that softball is definitely a sport that could benefit from continued work to further improve the inclusivity of the game. I think that what has prevented the sport from becoming more inclusive is, up until recent events, few people were willing to acknowledge the lack of diversity in our sport as an issue that needed fixing or addressing. With more people speaking out now and uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations taking place, I believe that as a community we all find ways to bring more diversity to softball. 

CC: I do think there are people and groups out there trying to help make softball more inclusive for others. This article alone is a testament to people in our community using their platform to promote change.

Additionally, I commend the NFCA for their “Educate to Elevate” installments where they have given a platform to an array of minority groups. But it is not enough to just listen to minority groups. Waving a rainbow flag is less impactful than providing a truly safe environment for young athletes and coaches to feel accepted by their peers. It is the responsibility of schools and coaches to provide these resources and standards that promote acceptance.

LS: I feel like they are. The times are changing and the world is changing with it and I think it’s about time. People don’t have to hide their sexuality, keep their a religion a secret, and I love that.

I believe that this change is good and people should be able to be who they are freely. I was on BYU’s SAAC and we had a whole committee for inclusion. I loved the events and the different things we would do to help promote inclusion. People on that committee were different ethnicities and were part of the LGBTQ+ family.

At BYU, we abide by an honor code but even that changed after this year. I’m so glad athletes now don’t have to hide at BYU where in years past they did. I hope the softball world continues to grow and become more inclusive.

FPN: Has your relationship with other people changed due to recent events? If yes, how?

Dr.: With the recent events, it has become obvious to me that we are seeing signs of the times. The most important thing I have realized during this “pause” given by these challenging times is to build meaningful relationships especially with our Lord and Savior; Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father.  As Jesus said when asked which is the great commandment in the law; “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Matthew 22: 37 (KJV). 

TS: When it came to recent events, my relationship really hasn’t changed with other people. I have had a lot of good conversations about how to make social and political change. There was a lot going on, not just with the focus on police brutality and racism, but I also knew that eventually Jews could/would be targeted, which unfortunately happened. I had friends who were attacked on social media with threats on their life for speaking out against anti-Semitism. It’s brutal. However, just like everything, we live, we learn, and we press on. The fight for justice will continue. 

JS: My relationship with some people has changed. Some people decided to educate themselves, some people showed themselves as allies and some I am not even sure if we have a friendship. It has hurt me to see past teammates not speak up or reach out.

In my opinion, I thought we were cool but I guess we were only cool because we played together. So many of them listen to Black artists, hang around Black people, date Black people but have a hard time simply saying Black lives matter. That does not sit right with me. 

RW: I don’t believe that my relationships with others changed very much due to recent events. They definitely sparked a lot of conversation and I was able to share experiences with others. From that, I was able to learn through a lot of different perspectives about everything going on. I would say that the recent events brought me closer to who I needed to be close to during this time and took me further away from the people I do not. 

CC: Overall, I feel more comfortable talking about social issues with others. However, people are unable to have effective discourse. People have become more focused on arguing rather than being empathic towards others’ experiences.

Another problem I have discovered is that, as a minority, I am automatically expected to be a spokesperson for every disenfranchised LGBTQ person while I myself continue to learn more about what it means for me to be gay. I feel responsible to have all the answers otherwise non-LGBTQ people can dismiss my struggle as well as the struggles of other LGBTQ people. For example, when people ask me questions about Native history. I feel guilty not having all of the answers yet, I was denied learning this history in school. It is hard to know your identity when it is white-washed in your own history books. I think it is awesome that people feel more comfortable to speak their opinions. But now we need to learn how to listen, and more importantly, realize that we as minorities don’t have to have all the answers every time we are asked to quantify our experience as a representation of our minority group.

LS: I don’t believe any of my relationships have changed. I have been very open my entire life how I support the LGBTQ+ community and those of different ethnicities. Some of my best friends were Black growing up. We played on the same basketball team, had sleepovers, went to each others birthday parties, and did everything together!

I knew they were different colored than me, but I only saw them as my best friends. I think growing up in the south there can be a lot of racism and its disgusting to me. I’ve always just known that the Lord loves every single one of us no matter how we look and no matter our decisions. He truly just loves us for us!

FPN: Have you ever felt different when you joined a team? Can you describe the feeling?

Dr.: Yes, I have felt different when I first joined a team because I was so young playing the sport with older players. I quickly learned that in order to compete with and against some of the greatest softball players of all time, it didn’t matter how young I was, it mattered how good I could be. I learned that I had to commit myself to be the best I could be every time I stepped onto the field whether it was practice or a game; both had to be treated the same. I learned to overcome doubt, to remove excuses and to live in the moment. I learned to freely and fully enjoy the gifts God had given me and to seize every opportunity before me both on and off the field.

TS: I have felt different on the team because of my identity, but it was something I was used to so it didn’t bother me. It didn’t change who I was as a ball player. If there’s another Jew on the team, that’s great. The only time it really gets weird is if people ask ridiculous questions like, “Do you speak Jewish?”

Regardless, I’m always happy to answer them, though. The more people know the better. 

JS: Of course, I feel different joining a team when I know I am going to be the only black girl or one of the few black girls but I understand so I’m not surprised. It just sucks when coaches have such a high expectation for you because they assume you contain certain abilities. You’re fast so you must do this. Because you’re fast, you’ll be doing this and you’ll be put here. You know you feel different and you know you don’t belong but, you can’t have that conversation because counterparts may not feel the same and they obviously don’t understand.

RW: When I was younger I was the only black girl on most of my teams so in that way I felt different often. The best way to describe what feeling different is like is feeling like you don’t fit in or don’t belong. There were just some things I experienced as a Black player that I knew my white teammates wouldn’t always be able to relate to. 

CC: Before joining a team or organization i usually do my research. Normally, I look at their roster/staff to see if there are any other LGBTQ people and how they are treated. If they are able to live their life authentically, I know it is a safe environment for me.

While I have worked for two different universities that have been nothing but inclusive, I know of other programs where I would have had to hide my identity. With that said, even in accepting environments there are still struggles, especially, as a LGBTQ person in college trying to find yourself. But if you are in an environment where being LGBTQ is not acceptable, you will never feel a part of the team. It is hard enough as a LGBTQ person trying to discover yourself, you shouldn’t have to also feel like you have to constantly defend it to be accepted.

LS: In college, I never really felt different because half the team was LDS and half was not. I felt like we all really meshed together and worked well despite our differences. When I played in the ASBA I felt different at first. One of the first nights we were there, we went to a bar for the night. I had never been to a bar so I had no idea what to expect. They all knew I didn’t drink and luckily they didn’t try to push it. After a few days though, I loved all those girls with all my heart. They were truly a special team and I still keep up with them all. After that night, I never felt left out or different because we all knew each others differences and appreciated each other for who we are.

FPN: Have you ever been in a situation on the field or with your team where you were afraid because of your background? That could be because of a holiday, or how you dress, or did fans (other parents, coaches, teammates, opponents) say things to you?

Dr.: I have never been afraid because of my background or beliefs. However, we know that persecution exists and it is prevalent all over the world today.

TS: Once, another Jewish teammate and I asked Coach if we could go to synagogue instead of practice for Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year). Coach was like, “Of course,” but he changed the whole practice for the team from that Wednesday to Saturday so we could go to practice.

Everyone was so pissed because apparently a bunch of people had plans to leave the state that weekend (plane tickets and everything). They asked why we didn’t consult the team first, but we didn’t know he was going to move THE WHOLE PRACTICE. So at the end of the day, there was nothing we could do and everyone had to deal with it. 

JS: Fortunately enough, I have not been in a situation where I have been threatened because of the color of my skin. 

RW: Any time we travel as a team through the airport I am always a little nervous. Muslims passengers in America experience discrimination and prejudice following the events of 9/11. I am always a little anxious when we fly places because I don’t want to be the reason that my team doesn’t make it to our destination on time being that I’m no stranger to getting taken aside by TSA to be a part of their, “random search.”

CC: The only time I have experienced this was when I played men’s fastpitch. Often times people would say stuff, not knowing that I was gay, that was hurtful but it was often easier to not expose myself. As I explained when answering the first question, while I still felt uncomfortable by the comments stated I was able to hide my identity when i felt it wasn’t safe to be openly gay. Again, I realize this is a privilege that ethnic minorities don’t have.

LS: Actually no, not really. There were always the fans that would yell at us something about being polygamist but that was about it. It never really bothered me because I know that the church doesn’t do that anymore and if that’s all people have on us, then so be it.

I am proud to be a member and I stand firm in my faith regardless of what people think of me. I can’t say I’ve always been that way though. I was insecure about my religion and was afraid people would judge me for a very long time. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that I’m a part of a very special denomination and I thank the Lord every day for letting me be a part of it.

Q&A Panel: Diversity in Softball

Fastpitch Network Diversity Series

By Maren Angus – Fastpitch Network

Diversity is, according to the dictionary, “A range of different things.”

Since Connie May tweeted from the ScrapYard Dawgs account resulted in the entire team walking out, diversity has been a topic of discussion from coast-to-coast in softball.

For softball, diversity comes in the form gender, religion, race and sexual orientation. Fastpitch Network reached out to Dr. Dot Richardson of Liberty, Tamara Statman of the Israeli National Team, Jessie Scroggins of Black Girls Ball, Rajaa Wilcox (Howard), Christian Conrad (Florida State), and Libby Sugg (BYU).

Diversity Series Panel – Fastpitch Network (graphic by Maren Angus)

Over the next three weeks, Fastpitch Network will host a weekly Q&A session with the panel members. The fourth week will be a Zoom Q&A hosted by Fastpitch Network and open to the public.

Meet the Panel

Richardson is in her seventh year at Liberty University and is considered on of the most decorated players in softball history. She won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 and 2000, five Pan-American gold medals and four World Championship gold medals.  She was a five-time collegiate All-American and was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 2006. Her husband, Bob Pinto, is the National Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Softball Ministry. She also serves as a board chair.

Statman was a four-year letter winner at Arizona and is a member of the Israeli Women’s National Team. Since graduating in 2019, she has worked at Cumulus Media, taught for the Tucson Unified School Distract and given lessons in the Tucson area. She is also a black belt, a world-ranked ballroom dancer, a podcast co-host and Miss Tucson del Sol.

Scroggins is a graduate assistant coach at UT-Dallas and retired from National Pro Fastpitch in January. She was the 2017 Defensive Players of the Year and league’s Rookie of the Year. At Baylor, she was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 selection. She recently co-founded Black Girls Ball, an inclusive place that provides a safe space for black softball players through mentorship and education.

Wilcox is a junior at Howard in Washington D.C. She is from Philadelphia, Penn.. She is black and Muslim. In 2019, she started 31 of 40 games for the Bison. She batted .139 with three doubles and three runs batted in. She played in four games during 2020’s shortened season.

Conrad is a Volunteer Coach at Florida State, a member of Cherokee Nation and the LGBTQ community.

Sugg is a Mormon from Franklin, Tenn., who recently graduated from BYU. She ranks No. 1 in career sacrifice flies, No. 2 in RBIs and doubles, No. 4 in slugging percentage and No. 5 in walks and home runs. She was also drafted ninth overall in the 2019 American Softball Association draft.