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Greenspring’s field of dreams

Ball players gear up for annual softball tournament

Created date

June 14th, 2018
Greenspring softball team manager Jim Coulter pitches to his teammates during an indoor, off-season practice.

Greenspring softball team manager Jim Coulter pitches to his teammates during an indoor, off-season practice.

In the famed movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, discovers that if he builds a ball field on his Iowa farm, former baseball legends will come to play ball. 

At Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., it’s much easier to get ballplayers together for a little friendly competition.

For more than ten years, ball players from across the community have come together to form a softball team. They compete against three other Erickson Living communities— Riderwood in Silver Spring, Md.; Oak Crest in Parkville, Md.; and Charlestown in Catonsville, Md.—at the annual Erickson Living softball tournament.

“We have a great team,” says Roy O’Connor, who plays for Greenspring. A former high school and college player, he enjoys the opportunity to throw the ball around the horn again.

“The Erickson Living Softball Tournament is a wonderful event,” he says. “Our Greenspring team enjoys the exercise and the camaraderie. We always have a lot of fun.”

Off-season preparation

Recognizing that the best ball players are made in the off-season, the Greenspring team, managed by Jim Coulter, began conditioning for the tournament months before the first pitch.

“We hold practices five days a week because we recognize that players aren’t available every day,” says Jim. “By providing numerous opportunities to practice, players can at least make one or two practices.”

Many of the off-season practices are held in the Hunters Crossing conference center. The team uses large foam balls, perfect for the indoor location.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to play inside when it is still cold,” says Jim. “It allows us to knock the rust off and work on our hand-eye coordination.”

In April, the team ventured out to hone their skills Monday through Friday mornings at nearby Beulah Park in Springfield.

“A few members of the team ‘drafted’ me, suggesting I come to a practice to see what the team is all about,” says Mary Sue Garner. “After the first day, I decided that, with some practice, I’d fit right in. That was six seasons ago, and I’m still having a great time. I enjoy spending the time with my fellow teammates. We laugh a lot, encourage each other, and get our exercise. Before joining the Greenspring team, I hadn’t played softball in almost 30 years.”

Like Mary Sue, Jim Fujita also experienced a long hiatus from playing ball. He credits his move to Greenspring for the opportunity to play again.

“As a kid, I played in little league, pony league, and on the high school baseball team, but it had been a long time since I’d picked up a bat,” he says. “The Greenspring softball team enables me to play a game I love and meet some great people I might not have known otherwise.”

Time to roll

After months of practice and conditioning, the Greenspring softball team looks forward to facing their Erickson Living counterparts this summer in the highly anticipated one-day tournament.

Ace right-handed pitcher Gary Traub is slated to pitch for Greenspring. He pitched for many years in the Northern Virginia Senior Softball League. Before that, he played with church and work leagues for more than 25 years. He moved to Greenspring in 2011 and has been a member of the team ever since.

“The team is a lot of fun, and it’s great to do something you enjoyed so much when you were younger,” he says. “I enjoy the fact that we can be competitive without any pressure.

Switch hitter Tom Townsend is one of the team’s newer members. He moved to Greenspring three years ago. He will contribute his talents to the team at both second base and behind the dish as catcher.

“I played ball growing up and most recently played on a softball team in Missouri,” he says. “I enjoy the competition, and we have a great time together as a team.

Long-time Northern Virginia Softball League player Bob Sampson will add muscle to the Greenspring team as a dominant middle-infielder.

“I always look forward to our annual tournament,” he says. “I am happy to play wherever the team needs me. We have such a great group of players, and this is a great opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise.”

Greenspring’s tenth man

In addition to the players, an entire busload of Greenspring fans will join the team for the tournament.

“We are so appreciative of our neighbors who come to cheer us on,” says Mary Sue. “We are so lucky to have such dedicated fans.”

“Our fans really get into the games, and we love it,” says Jim. “They bring cowbells and cheer. It gets us going.”

Joining the Greenspring team last year, Sue Corso was astounded by the support the team received from their neighbors.

“I always knew we lived with wonderful people, but I was amazed at the support and encouragement we received,” she says. “My husband Joe also plays, and this team is such a great addition to our lives at Greenspring. I especially enjoy getting out to the practices in the spring and traveling up to Maryland to play in the tournament.”

“Playing with or supporting the softball team is just one of the many ways we celebrate life and each other at Greenspring,” says Mary Sue. “It’s a summertime activity that many of us look forward to and enjoy.”