Please Enjoy My Swedish Softball Stories From 2009 Written By Charity Butler
SKÖVDE, Sweden — In a country that consistently produces top notch athletes and maintains a strong base of athletic enthusiasts, the game of softball is rather unfamiliar to mainstream Sweden.
Women’s fastpitch softball has only developed in Sweden over the last several decades. The players here do not have the long, rich history and the resulting resources available to players in the US.
I have great respect for the Swedish Saints players. These women are pioneers, the frontrunners of fastpitch in Sweden.
This week, we took our second set of games in a double header against Norrköping. Our team improved to 4-0. The final scores for the weekend, 15-0 and 19-4, are evidence of Skövde’s dominance in the Swedish softball world. We blasted 27 hits over two games!
Although softball is relatively young, other sports are well-established here. The Swedish compete on world class levels in hockey, hand ball and futball (aka soccer).
My second week in Sweden, I experienced two major Swedish sporting event championships.
Stockholm played host to the Swedish National Handball Championships for men and women. The Skövde Women’s Handball Team competed for the national title. The town of Skövde is where I lived and played. Everyone was rooting for the hometown team as we huddled around the television to watch the final game!
Also on Swedish sports television this week, the National Hockey Team of Sweden took 3rd place in the World Hockey Championships, just edging out Team USA 4-2. Everyone was talking about and following hockey.
Although softball is not afforded the same air time as other major sports in Sweden, the Saints are definitely making a name for themselves across the country and around Europe. The team is the defending National Champion of Sweden, five years running!
As the top team in the country, the Saints earned a berth to the European Cup, the most elite international tournament in this part of the world. We compete in the highest pool against the nine other top European teams. The tournament took place in Legnano, Italy (you must keep following to read the outcome!).
In a relatively short time, the women of the Saints have developed the sport of fastpitch and are competing at the top international level. They do not have the luxuries we so often take for granted in the US: full time training staff, field crew, recruiting coordinators, administrative staff and the like.
Nonetheless, playing in Sweden was refreshing. These women play “for the love of the game.” They practice and play to win! The Saints players work hard on and off the field.
More importantly, though, they portray the TEAM concept effortlessly. The perspective of the players serves as a reminder to me, the achievement-oriented American, that life is about people.
Softball allows me to live, love and share my life with people. I am grateful for the opportunities this game has afforded me. It is a blessing to pass the knowledge and experience on to others, both at home and abroad.
Oh, and winning is a blast, too!
Charity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.
Charity, a Two-Time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, played Division I softball at the University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduation, she launched a professional softball career that has taken her across the U.S. and literally around the world.
Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.
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