Winnipeg league promises ‘softball for all’

By | April 21, 2019

Have you ever wanted to join a softball league, but were too intimidated or worried you weren’t athletic enough to play?

A new Winnipeg softball league hopes a different approach to the game will make the sport more accessible to everyone who wants to play.

The Winnipeg General Strikeout Softball league aims to break away from what organizer Jennifer Mussell calls “typical, toxic sport culture.”

“It’s kind of hard to start a new sport when you’re an adult and you’ve never played before and you don’t know the rules,” said Mussell, a member of the new league’s coordinating committee.

The idea behind the new league is to give a space to people who might not feel comfortable playing in a standard sports league. 

“Generally we want to give as many people as possible an opportunity to play and have fun and to learn the sport,” Mussell said. 

No ‘gym class horror stories’

To accommodate a wide range of abilities, the rules of play are a little different than a traditional league too, with new players given the chance to keep swinging until they get a hit and players from the same team pitching to their teammates.

“We’ll be trying to have fun and be competitive about it, but in a way, that lets everybody play,” Mussell said.

“We just don’t want any gym class horror stories to happen.”

Mussell also adds that, unlike other leagues, gender will not play a role on the make up of teams.

Jennifer Mussell, seen here waiting for a pitch, is one of the organizers of the new Winnipeg General Strikeout Softball league. (Submitted by Jennifer Mussell)

“We’re not asking people what their gender is in our registration form — we are asking what kinds of pronouns they like to use — but that’s just to be respectful, not because we want to divide them by gender,” she explained.

“This is an opportunity for people who are non-binary and don’t define their gender traditionally, or people like trans folks who might not fit into the traditional definition of who should be on a male team or a female team.”

Registration fee on sliding scale

And to make sure everyone can take part regardless of income, the league’s registration fee is on a sliding scale — ranging between $30 to $70 for the season, Mussell said.

“The idea is to socialize the cost so everybody can enjoy it,” she explained, adding the non-profit league will use the fees to pay for equipment, insurance and to rent a field to play on.

Registration for the inaugural season — which starts after the May Long Weekend — opened in March and interested players can sign up to play on the league’s website.

Organizers are also holding a meet and greet at the Good Will Social Club from 2 to 4 p.m. on April 28, open to anyone looking for more information about the league.

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