Girls-only softball training center gives young athletes competitive edge year round

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Whether they’re pitching, catching, hitting, or fielding, the young ladies who practice at the new Softball Central facility train hard, working to rise to the top of their sport.

Their indoor training facility on Broadway is the only one of its kind in our area, giving them an opportunity to shine in an environment that’s all about the girl power.

“All the facilities in Western New York are baseball and softball, and girls always seem to take a back seat to the boys,” explained Missy Hufford, who opened Softball Central with her husband, Kevin, a couple years ago to put female athletes first.

There’s been a big demand for that girls-only training in our area, so business moved into a new building on Broadway this fall, doubling its space, to better serve the young ladies in our community. “They don’t have to worry about boys gawking at them, and any of that stuff,” Hufford said. “They can just come here and focus on softball.”

“We can like focus more on our sport instead of focusing on distractions,” agreed Grace Eagen, who trains at Softball Central with her Lakeshore Eclipse teammates.

That focus can lead to big things, including playing softball in college and going onto the Olympics, or even making a professional career out of their passion. “There are lots of scholarships out there for girls. There are lots of opportunities. The National and Professional Fast Pitch League is a growing thing,” Hufford pointed out.

But, to get to that level, it takes hard work and dedication, usually from a young age.

“Softball has always been a part of my life,” said Katie Weymer, who was training at Softball Central while on break from the University of Tennessee, where she’s a member of the softball team. “It’s taught me how to work hard to do what I want in the future.”

Most of the college athletes who practice at Softball Central grew up in the local programs. Now, they’re serving as role models for the younger girls who come to the center for individual lessons and to train with their teams. “Softball definitely makes us stronger and it gives us a lot of skills,” said Julianne Calabrese, another member of the Lakeshore Eclipse under 12 team.

The Eclipse team members who spoke to News 4 Wednesday morning said they recognized that their strength and skills extended beyond the field. They said the training gave them life skills, like leadership, teamwork, and the courage to reach for their goals both athletically and in their personal lives.

News 4’s Katie Alexander (who is decidedly unathletic and uncoordinated) had the chance to check out the Softball Central facility and take a few lessons during Wake Up on Wednesday morning. Watch the videos below to see more from her visit.

You can learn more about Softball Central and its programs on its website: http://www.softballcentral.org/

 

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