By Mike D’Abate
There is an old adage in sports that there is no “I” in “Team.” While this commonly-used, motivational phrase is literally correct, there is a bit of room for subjectivity in its interpretation. The most successful teams are those that are built on strong individual efforts, which share the common goal of working together. Sports teams often pride themselves on achieving success independently. However, there is no shame in receiving a helping hand. Whether it be emotional inspiration or physical assistance, any athlete can befit from the wisdom and counsel of those that previously blazed the trail of prosperity.
On Thursday, August 22, the Pawtucket Red Sox teamed with The Smithfield Girls Softball League to host an evening of “Girl Power with the PawSox” at Whipple Field. The PawSox organization sent several of their top female leaders to speak and play with softball players in Smithfield. The evening consisted of panel discussions and insight on how playing sports (namely softball; in high school and college) while securing a full college education, helped to advance and accelerate their careers as executives in professional baseball. The event was the 35th in their series of the ‘PawSox’ 50 Acts of Kindness’ being performed throughout Rhode Island, in honor of the 50th year of affiliation with the Boston Red Sox.
The Smithfield Girls Softball League could not have been more elated to have been chosen for such an honor. The League is celebrating its 48th season in 2019. On average, there over 350 girls annually, ages 4 through 18, that participate in team activities. When asked about the impact of events such as these on the League, and youth sports, in general, Mario Vendittelli (President of the Smithfield Girls Softball League) stated: “We are honored to be able to host an event like this. It is a great night for all of the girls in our organization.”
Smithfield Town Council President Suzy Alba, who is a former softball player herself, could not be in attendance. However, she also expressed her enthusiasm for the event via a statement which read: “This is an amazing opportunity for girls in town to be inspired by these women who were former softball players themselves and how they made a career in the industry. We are truly grateful to the PawSox for offering this unique opportunity for our youth, as well as the clinics and refreshments; this is all so very exciting and generous.”
In total, five PawSox officials were present and eager to share their wisdom and counsel with the Smithfield softballers, as well as those in attendance. The team’s (PawSox) representatives included Executive Vice President & General Counsel Kim Miner, Intern Coordinator & Special Assistant to the President Jackie Dempsey, Senior Director of McCoy Events Grace Eng, and Senior Director of Ticket Operations Samantha ‘Sammy’ Saccoia-Beggs, and Brooke Cooper, Senior Director of Marketing & Merchandising.
Miner played softball at Tufts before earning her law degree at Harvard University. Today, she serves as the Pawox legal counsel, and is the first of her kind for a minor-league baseball affiliate. Dempsey was an infielder and outfielder at Villanova, where she earned her master’s certificate. Eng earned her bachelor’s degree while pitching for Elon, in North Carolina. Saccoia-Beggs played for the Pawtucket Slaterettes before graduating from Becker College. Cooper was a basketball star at Woonsocket High and Franklin Pierce University. She then earned her MBA at Providence College.
After the discussion, which included an informative and entertaining ‘questions-and-answers’ session, the PawSox conducted a softball clinic, on the field. Event organizer and Smithfield Town Manager Randy R. Rossi marveled at the camaraderie displayed by Smithfield’s young athletes, along with the members of the PawSox organization. All in all, the event was a resounding success.
Perhaps the most poignant insight on the evening was provided by PawSox President Dr. Charles A. Steinberg. He praised the efforts of his front office, while offering inspirational words for the Smithfield League, as well. Steinberg eloquently stated: “These bright, educated young women play integral roles in the operation of the Pawtucket Red Sox. We hope that their words and stories will inspire more young women, including those who play and love diamond sports, to recognize that their dreams of becoming baseball executives are real, tangible, and imminent. There was a time when women might not have been afforded the opportunities to ascend to the highest levels of baseball; those times are long gone.”
In addition to the panel discussion and clinic, the PawSox graciously donated refreshments such as water, hot dogs, chips, and ice cream for all in attendance to enjoy. Appropriately billed as an ‘act of kindness’ this event gallantly served its intention. It was informative, fun and helpful. In doing so, those who have achieved their dream helped to provide continued inspiration for those with the determination to pursue theirs. In the process, they might just have enhanced the definition of the term “Girl Power.”
*The Smithfield Girls Softball League and the Pawtucket Red Sox organizations also contributed to this story.