Taking A Softball Approach

If you want to donate money to good causes, Westport is not exactly a wasteland.

Organizations like the Y, ABC House, Staples Tuition Grants, Project Return and Al’s Angels — to name a very, very few — are all in the midst of raising funds.

Add to that the many smaller drives, with more specific goals. At a time of tighter public funding, for instance, sports groups solicit for projects that back in the day might have been covered by tax dollars.

The golf halfway house at Longshore is one example. Lights and a new concession stand at the Staples football field is another.

With so many worthy hands out, it might be daunting for a newcomer to enter the fray.

There are no dugouts at the Green's Farms Elementary School field.

A group of softball parents thought long and hard about the odds they faced — and how they’d go about it. But the need for a new varsity diamond, closer to Staples than the current home at Green’s Farms Elementary School, overrode their concerns about asking the public for funds.

The plan is to renovate a softball field at Wakeman, making it “varsity worthy,” and spiff up the existing JV field in a corner of Staples too. The cost is $75,000 — far less than the lights or halfway house, but hardly chump change.

The softball folks did their due diligence. Their campaign offers a lesson in proceeding with foresight, insight and creativity.

They enlisted not only current softball parents, but those of younger players who will one day benefit from improved facilities.

They sought input from groups that recently raised funds — for example, the soccer and baseball boosters who put in new seating at Staples.

They picked a clever name: “Got Field?”

Staples softball action from 2011.

They planned a wine-tasting fundraiser and auction at the Beach Gallery & Café wine bar in Norwalk — not a unique event, but one they pulled off with class.

They wanted to convey a sense of civility and community. They hoped to engage parents, neighbors and other athletic groups, and they worked hard to do it.

Though softball is a well-known sport, its Westport profile is low. The “Got Field?” folks figured that an intense campaign would not serve them well. They believed that once they convinced the town and approval boards that the project was worth their time and support, fundraising would follow.

After the Beach Gallery event, they’re halfway to their goal. They’re betting their low-key, hard-work, engage-the-community approach will help raise the rest.

Staples softball is heading into the “home” stretch.

The current softball field at Wakeman could use some work.

17 responses to “Taking A Softball Approach

  1. John McCarthy

    Come out and see a game! Staples Softball season opener today at Norwalk HS at 4 PM

  2. Congratulations to the “Got Field” group on their early progress to their goal. On behalf of the Friends of Westport Parks & Rec, let me extend a hand if the parents need a 501c3 to offer deductions to contributors or if they would like to post this terrific project on our website. The Friends were organized by the Parks & Rec Commission last year to support worthwhile projects like this for which tax dollars have dried up. See http://www.westportfriendsofparksrec.com/ for details.

  3. Where are the J.V. Boys and Girls Lacrosse Teams going to go? They use and have been using the field that would be the outfield for a Varsity Softball Field to be built there.

  4. To Westport Softball :Parents & Players, Past & Present & Future,

    My Family & I are so excited to see and hear about this project!! Please let us know where donations are being accepted!!
    Having been a part of the Westport Softball family from 1988 to 2007, it is so exciting for us to hear about this plan!!
    The girls that played at Staples, and the girls that played at Greens Farms will be so excited for their sisters of softball when this dream is realized.
    Westport has been and is blessed to have such wonderful facilities for all the children of the town to use.
    I can remember when the fields at Wakeman were at risk of never happening and now without these fields where would the children of Westport be without them.
    Knowing now that this jewel is planned for the Staples / Westport Fastpitch Softball Programs completes those plans that were thought out so long ago.
    We look forward to following this project to its completion!! My Family and I truly look forward to the day when we can drive into Wakeman Farms and see this completed dream.
    To those of you that had this vision, to those of you that have worked to make this dream start to be a reality and to those of you that will see this project through to its completion we THANK YOU from the bottom of our bat bags, our ball buckets, and our helmet bags!! But most of all, WE THANK YOU from the bottom of our Staples / Westport Softball Loving Hearts!!!


    Tom, Sue, Casey, Courtney & Kelly Wall

    • Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support! Many of the girls had the wonderful opportunity of being coached by Courtney last year and we all truly miss her. You should give me your email so I can keep you in the loop and invite you to upcoming reunion parties for retired softball parents, players and coaches…we need you there! gotfieldproject@gmail.com

  5. The Dude Abides

    A diamond is a baseball diamond. That being said I did break my collar bone in the short stop region at Greens Farms in the summer of ’67. Too much emphasis on the field facilities. The best athletes in this region came out of the 60’s & 70’s (Murphy & Valentine and Young) when sandlot baseball and peach baskets were the norm. Good luck, however, the Wreckers.

  6. This is a worthwhile project which should be supported by all Westporters who love the game. Add my name to the list of supporters!

  7. Jesus H. Christ. They need 5 million to break ground for a new YMCA, they collected $250,000 for a new hot dog stand at Longshore, the Gridiron club needs money for the football field lights and they just passed a 102 million dollar BOE budget. STOP IT!!! ENOUGH!!! Wakeman is nearly brand new and you are already whining!

    • Agreed. The driving range at Longshore is a disgrace and always gets lost in the shuffle.

  8. I played Staples softball in the late 60s and we had to drive to Greens Farms for both practice and games. It would be great for the girls team to be able to walk to their field at Wakeman rather than have to drive. I would think the liability issues alone would more than make up for the cost of upgrading the field at Wakeman. I was pleased to see the dedication of the Ginny Parker field hockey/lacrosse field a number of years ago, I played for Ginny too all those years ago. I don’t think asking for a softball field is over the

    • Dear Karen…what a great story and I agree! Seniors stuff all the other players and their equipment into their car like a clown car to get to practices and games. You should give me your email so we can invite you to upcoming retired softball parents, players and coaches parties! Perhaps on Senior night!? Did you know Lori Winthrop? Contact us at gotfieldproject@gmail.com!

  9. They have a field. The issue is an upgrade. I am certainly not inferring that our female athletes take a second seat to any athletic endeavor but we are in the worse economic times since the Depression and we are at War. Why don’t you raise the $75,000 for our GI families here at home who will spend Easter dinner at the food shelter. Dang, it is like we live in a wannabe bubble around here. The wants are never-ending.

  10. It Takes a Village

    I would suggest all of these causes are worth while and there doesn’t have to be an either or. Our family supports GI families, homeless shelters, Save the Children, the Westport Art Center, and Equality now, among other important causes. We also happen to support got field? because we believe the girls should not be asked to trudge through the woods with poison ivy and ticks to retrieve balls after every JV game, and the Varsity team should be able to get to their field without hitch hiking, relying on seniors, who are new drivers, to drive a group of underclasswomen to practices and games, or beg parents to drive when many are working parents. We are not demanding anyone donate to improving and creating a varsity softball field or help to maintain a vibrant softball program for the girls of Westport, we just feel it is a worthy cause and appreciate whatever support we get be it financial or not. This one is for the girls!

  11. Late Night Rita

    Lord, it is just a game. I wonder what kids did before adults were around to run everything for them? Probably had a lot more fun.

  12. Thank you for your interest in the got field? project and thoughtful comments. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation you can do so online at http://www.woovite.com/gotfieldproject. You can also mail a check made out to Staples Softball Booster Club-got field? to: got field?, 19 Country Road, Westport, Ct. 06880. Any questions or suggestions are welcome at gotfieldproject@gmail.com. Thanks again!