Pomona Valley Wildcats

Pitch Perfect

Members of the softball team step up to the plate annually to coach members of the Pomona Valley Wildcats Special Olympics teams.

Softball is a spring sport, but for the University of La Verne Leopards softball team, the season started early in the fall with a visit from some local Olympians.

The defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champion softball team hosted the Pomona Valley Wildcats Special Olympics teams for a September clinic.

Mikayla Mendoza
Mikayla Mendoza coaches Pomona Valley Wildcats player Emily Satterberg during a game at Campus West in February.

“We love working with the Special Olympics,” softball Head Coach Julie Smith said. “It gives our players an opportunity to teach and give back to a highly-respected organization.”

The Leopards began working with the Wildcats in 2012 with the help of La Verne’s Student Advisory Athletic Committee, and have since hosted them annually.

The Wildcats, whose players range in age from 12 to 46, brought two teams to the clinic. The Leopards worked with them individually and in small groups on hitting drills, defensive drills, and base running. Athletes spent other parts of the day working on fundamentals of situational play to help prepare the Wildcats for upcoming tournaments.

This was the second time junior outfielder and business administration major Carly Condon helped with the clinic.
“La Verne is all about community and being able to help a local Special Olympics team really adds to the La Verne experience,” Condon said. “It helps expand my perspective and shows softball and sports in general can bring enjoyment to people.

Along with the clinic, the Wildcats also used the University of La Verne’s Campus West field in the fall for practice.

La Verne Leopards Softball
Members of the Leopards softball team
and the Pomona Valley Wildcats gather for a team huddle.

“Our relationship with La Verne has been extremely beneficial for our Special Olympic athletes and has really helped us grow,” Wildcats Head Coach Kim Ennis McCrory said. “The La Verne softball team gives our athletes personal attention and teaches them skills that they can later work on independently. It helps keep our athletes motivated, makes them feel special, and provides them with the tools they need to succeed while practicing in a safe and supportive environment.”

The Leopards were nominated for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Special Olympics Spotlight of the Month last October for their work with the Wildcats.

“Some of our players had never worked with the Special Olympics before, so this experience was very rewarding and humbling for them,” Smith said. “Everyone walked away with a huge smile.”

Smith hopes to expand the relationship and host a regional tournament for the Wildcats next fall.