Giving is Good for Us: I Heart Fastpitch in Italy Written By Charity Butler
Giving is good for us! Research has actually proven that it is better to give than to receive.
According to SparkPeople.com, “studies have shown a relationship between volunteering and increased self-esteem, with volunteers reporting both greater personal empowerment and better health.”
Health Watch MD reports, “A Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) study showed that… volunteers had better physical functioning accompanied by a decrease in… physical pain.”
Giving can even improve mental health, “The CNCS study reported volunteers having less anxiety, better friendships, less trouble sleeping and better control over chronic diseases.”
Apparently, we are also less likely to die young if we give and help others.
“We consistently find that volunteering and helping behavior is associated with a reduced risk of mortality,” says Stephanie Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University in New York.
“Reduced risk of mortality?” As if any of us can avoid death?! I would not claim the act of giving as some magic potion, fountain of youth, or secret to immortality. It is, however, beneficial for both the receiver and the giver.
To experience the healthy benefits and joy of giving, find your niche. Lead the way for others, and give in ways that are meaningful to you.
The I Heart Fastpitch campaign was birthed from my desire to give and have impact. It is my niche. It may be yours, too.
As I have matured as a fastpitch player and coach, I have realized that women and girls around the globe share my love and respect for the sport but so many have limited access to fastpitch resources. Through the distribution of donated old and unused equipment, I Heart Fastpitch works to develop the sport nationally and internationally in areas less fastpitch-fortunate.
This summer marked the inaugural international event for I Heart Fastpitch. Through the existing America’s Team program, we traveled to northern Italy where a team of American high school softball players competed against Italian teams. In addition, we provided free skills clinics for several Italian softball clubs and delivered donated equipment to the local softball teams.
I am honored to be working with America’s Team, the program dedicated to changing the lives of kids through sports. America’s Team Founder, Brigham Joy, shares, “We have three simple goals for our teams and players. The first is to introduce them to a foreign country, its people and culture. The second is to give our players the opportunity to represent the USA in sports… And thirdly, we work to promote the sport of softball and increase the level of competitiveness around the world.”
I believe it is important for American players to experience the game internationally. We, American fastpitch athletes, are very spoiled in the US. America’s Team is an incredible platform for young players to expand their perspectives, to broaden their world view. The opportunities for education and growth through international competition are immeasurable.
The girls chosen are quality players and people. I was thrilled to see them experience another culture through the game we all love! Their dedication to and respect of the sport grew immensely, and they became deeply appreciative for the opportunity to give to their international fastpitch sisters.
In partnership with America’s Team and Little League Italia, we hosted a clinic at the complex most recently voted the best softball field in Europe. Interestingly enough, most of our American players’ high school facilities are comparable to the top complex on the European continent.
When it comes to the game of Fastpitch, Italy is one of the most well-equipped and advanced countries in Europe, yet the players were absolutely giddy when given items that seem trivial to most American players: good socks, small bat bags, used bats, batting gloves, catcher’s gear, knee pads (most international teams wear shorts, not pants).
Witnessing the overjoyed response from the Italian players as they received old gear that was collecting dust and cluttering our storage rooms was quite humbling. We shared our sport through giving equipment that was virtually useless at home. The same equipment, now in the bat bag of an Italian player, was suddenly appreciated, even cherished.
Randy Alcorn’s observation is fitting, “For true value lies not in the possession of a thing, but in the use we make of it.”
Our new Italian friends were excited to make use of our old American gear. They were hungry to play, to learn, to grow, to improve. They love our game, but their resources are limited. Fastpitch equipment is simply not available in most countries around the world.
Fastpitch is an American sport. No other country in the world has the history, available training, facilities, coaching and equipment that we take for granted.
Through I Heart Fastpitch, it is possible to strategically share our abundance. I Heart Fastpitch is building on the local connections made during our trip to determine needs and seek to meet them. Currently, gloves, tees and balls are in high demand, but any and all equipment will be put to good use!
Why not de-clutter this fall? Lead the way, and make it a team event! Clean out garages, storage sheds, closets, rooms and buildings. We promise to find players (both at home and abroad) who will not only use, but treasure your old stuff.
Plans for next summer’s international trips are underway, as well. We will be working in several different countries. If you are interested in traveling as a coach or as a player, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit iheartfastpitch.com.
Whether you are passionate about a cause within our sport, or your giving heart takes you somewhere else, find a place to plug-in. Lead by example, and be intentional about giving. Instead of spending time and resources, invest them! Give time, talent or treasure and gain the health benefits described above.
Lisa Jackson-Cherry, chair of Marymount University’s department of counseling, notes that “People who are engaged in service projects… receive something in return: that sense of self-worth, of making a difference.”
Be a leader. Take action, and give yourself the gift of making a difference… it’s priceless.
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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