This summer, there are many Millburn/Short Hills moms spending time at the town baseball fields. They aren’t there to cheer on their children though. Instead, they are taking the field themselves, competing in the newly formed Women’s Softball League.
Jemela Zamore and Pamela Rubin, both Short Hills moms, are the women who put the league together. Zamore explains, “We were at a friend’s birthday celebration and I was just thinking how awesome everyone at the table was. We are all from different backgrounds and yet here we were, together to celebrate. It just popped out of my mouth, ‘Hey Pam, you know what our town needs, a softball team!’”
Rubin wholeheartedly agreed and immediately called the town’s Head of Recreation. He said that they had tried in the past and it never really caught on. Since both Rubin and Zamore already knew several women that were interested, they were able to convince the town to give it another go.
Word of mouth on the new league spread fast. Over 130 women expressed interest and by the start of the summer season, nine teams were formed with over 20 players each. The age range of players is mostly late 30’s to 50’s and experience varied too. Some played in college, while others had never played at all.
Lilly Ibrahim, a mother of four, was one of the first to sign up. Having played softball in high school, Ibrahim was thrilled a chance to get back in the game.
Says Ibrahim, “I love watching my kids play sports but this baseball season I was feeling a little envious of my boys. Watching them brings back so many of my childhood softball memories. I love playing competitive team sports and the camaraderie that goes with it.”
Being on the field instead of on the sidelines has given the moms a different perspective. Mother of two, Karen Horowitz had never played softball before but thought it would be fun. Says Horowitz, “Having watched so many of my kids’ games, I thought I would feel really comfortable. But standing out there, you definitely feel a little exposed. I am not sure if I want the ball to come my way or not! “
Ibrahim too admits to some jitters on the field. She says, “It has been a little nerve-wracking. I’m not a great hitter and I never want to let my team down. This experience has reminded me that nobody on the field wants to make mistakes. I’ve realized that sometimes I need to be careful about how much pressure and expectations I place on my children when they play.”
The league is also a role reversal for the kids — a chance for them to sit in the stands and be the fans. Horowitz’s daughter came to her watch her mom’s first game with some friends and made up cheers on the sidelines. Ibrahim’s sons provided both support and some helpful coaching advice. Says Zamore, “All my son wants to do when he gets home from camp is practice with me. I think in a way, it hasn’t just brought the women together in town, I think it has brought us closer to our kids.”
In addition to having a good time, the moms are good role models for their children, especially their daughters. Ibrahim says, “I remember how important team sports were for me when I was growing up, especially when my family went through a rough time. Being an athlete gave me a strong sense of identity.” Horowitz adds, “It teaches my daughter that you are never too old to try new things.”
After the games, win or lose, all the players head to the local bar to celebrate and socialize. Says Rubin, “Jemela and I are shocked beyond belief at the amount of women who are playing and are so happy that we could bring so much joy to so many people.”Adds Zamore, “It may sound cheesy, but I really think it’s true. I think we formed something way bigger than just a women’s softball league.”