GoodSport Live Interview with Gabby Velez – Breaking Barriers to Play Baseball. This is the first in our series with GoodSport’s Content and Partnerships Director, Rhonda Bird, as she spotlights groundbreaking Baseball for All players.
There is a cultural myth that softball is for girls and baseball is just for boys. However, this is not the case. Under Title IX, girls have a legal right to a fair tryout in baseball. In 2009, the NCAA ruled that baseball and softball are two different sports. Just because a school has a softball team is not a legal reason that a girl cannot play baseball. In spite of some progress being made, research shows that over 100,000 girls play youth baseball, yet unfortunately only 1,000 go on to play in high school. Thanks to the efforts of Baseball for All, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower girls who want to play baseball, more girls are being given the opportunity to play.
This organization was founded by Justine Siegal, PhD, who is the first female coach hired by a MLB team. It offers young women like Gabby Velez opportunities to play, coach, and lead in baseball. GoodSport’s Rhonda Bird had the opportunity to speak with Gabby and learn more about her journey. As Gabby shares in our video, when she learned she could play with Baseball for All, it was life-changing.
Gabby played with Baseball for All through high school and is now giving back to the sport, and this movement, by starting her own team in New York City called Reinas Baseball. Reina means “queen” in Spanish. Gabby explained about her choice of the name: “I want our girls to feel like queens on and off the field; I want them to know that they can be the ‘top dog’ in whatever they do.” Not only are Gabby’s efforts focused on enabling more girls to play what has traditionally been considered a male sport, she and Reinas Baseball are also focused on growing racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity within the U.S. girls’ baseball community.
With the return to sports looking promising, post-pandemic, Gabby’s future with the Reinas is looking bright. Baseball for All believes that “too many girls are told they can’t play baseball,” and we, at GoodSport, agree. We salute Gabby’s efforts and this incredible organization.