Nothing can break the bonds of friendship forged within the ranks of the Girlfriendz Masters Softball team. Certainly not a measly 3000-plus kilometres.
With 2020 shaping up as a big year for the far-flung team, the players are clocking up the hours on the pitch and that means some serious travel time.
Forget resting on past performances. The 2019 Sportscover Clubbies winners are eyeing November’s Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast, where just getting your name on the schedule can be a dog fight. This time more than 150 softball outfits will be vying for a piece of the action.
“A lot of teams end up on waiting lists, it’s that popular,” says 45-year-old pitcher Kristin Garsheen. “We’ve just got to be on the ball and ready to register. It’s like buying tickets to a concert when you have to be online at one in the morning or you miss out.”
Girlfriendz have been together for more than two decades and five Pan Pacs. The players, who range in age from 38 to 64, have emerged stronger than ever following the tragic death of two teammates. It’s an unquenchable spirit that saw them pick up the Best Masters gong at a glittering Clubbies presentation in April. Five of the Sydney-based teammates were on hand to lift the trophy.
“It was so exciting, the girls had a ball,” says Garsheen. “We went live on Facebook to our team – some of them are all over the place. We’ve got one on Bathurst Island teaching Aboriginal children off the north coast of Australia. We’ve got three teammates in Queensland and one in Newcastle.”
And while that presents a logistical nightmare, somehow the team makes it work, picking up silver at the Georges River Masters in August. Their achievements and community spirit have been acknowledged by both Softball NSW and Sutherland Shire Softball Association.
“We’ve known each other forever,” Garsheen adds. “We were all initially based in Sydney. Now it’s a matter of working out which tournaments players can afford to fly in for.”
Of course the Pan Pacs changes everything with most teams turbo-charging their tournament time to ready themselves for the rigours of up to 15 games in a week. For these Girlfriendz the motivation is even greater.
“Sport deepens friendships and for some people sport is their outlet and their team is their rock,” Garsheen says. “We rely on each other and support each other and back each other. We all know what each other has gone through.”