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No Iowa softball this summer? No problem

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | JULY 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa softball team placed second in the Big Ten in May, following the season in 2011, when the Hawkeyes could only manage eighth place in the conference.

The stands and Pearl Field were packed more than ever during the 2012 season. Hawkeye softball fans huddled through chilly spring rain and braved the sudden heat flashes just to see their women in Black and Gold.

But the Iowa softball program doesn't offer a summer camp or clinics for the horde of middle- and high-school girls who fill the bleachers during the college season.

It's not necessarily missed, though.

The Iowa high-school softball season takes place in the summer, beginning in late May and ending in early July. The schedule allows high-school athletes to participate in four sports, year round, if they so choose, but also makes it hard for softball athletes to attend sports camps or clinics during vacation.

The Diamond Dreams Sports Academy services around 250 softball athletes a year, but most of the players seek it out during the fall and winter.

"We want people to be able to participate as much as they want and not have to make a choice between different programs," Diamond Dreams general manager Kyle Sherman said. "There's so much competitive softball around the area."

The Iowa City Girls Softball program coaches athletes anywhere between kindergarten and a graduated high-school seniors, regardless of experience or ability.

Iowa City Girls Softball senior co-commissioner Dave Dvorsky has coached girls with no experience at all on the same team as softball players with a life on the diamond behind them.

"We generally don't get a lot of girls who play high-school softball playing with us because their practice schedules and game schedules are too much of a conflict," Dvorsky. "We serve a completely different need … We're rec-league softball. We're just here for fun."

Most college-sponsored sports camps serve to instruct and introduce young athletes to the game, but because Iowa City Girls Softball, Diamond Dreams, and similar programs in the state fulfill that need, the Hawkeyes aren't missed too much.

Both Sherman and Dvorsky said the absence of a sanctioned Iowa Hawkeyes softball camp doesn't affect the opportunities for young softball players in the area.

Instead, there are almost too many options.

UI student Rachel Greving played high-school softball for five years at Pella High, making the junior varsity team as an eight-grader. Greving even tried to attend a Hawkeye softball camp despite living nearly two hours away but was snowed out and never made it into Iowa City.

"I've always loved [former Iowa head coach] Gale Blevins, and my entire childhood, all the way up through high school, I wanted to go to a camp with her. But I never quite made it … but now, looking back, I don't think I missed out on too much."

Greving said she was always too busy playing summer high school softball for Pella that she never even thought about an Iowa camp. Her high-school team gave her more than enough to do, she said.

Dvorsky said that softball in the state of Iowa isn't going to die out soon, and the lack of an Iowa program doesn't really affect young Iowans hoping to get on the field. The Iowa City Girls Softball program has functioned for 39 years with the high demand of softball in Iowa.

"If you go down to our ballparks any evening during the week during our season, the place is just crawling with kids and families," Dvorsky said. "Softball is very popular in Iowa. We're seeing kids and families that want to learn and those that want to play hard games. There's enough for everyone."


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