Women’s Softball Players Take on South Africa
By Cameron Beall | Published Oct 21, 2017
This past June, Kean University women’s softball players Olivia Zengel and Shannon McMahon went on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa.
The opportunity came about through an organization called Beyond Sports, who sent an email out to their head coach. The organization recruits softball players from all over the United States based on their stats and performances from prior seasons.
The players were split up into four separate teams and played against some of the top professional teams in South Africa. They only played in four games, however, they were there for a much bigger reason than simply playing softball– to help those who are less fortunate than them.
“It was more than just playing games,” said McMahon. “We held clinics for the kids and then we’d play games after that.”
McMahon completed her last year of softball just before going on the trip in June and is scheduled to graduate in December. She’s been playing since she was five years old.
The Beyond Sports Foundation, based out of HighLand Park, IL, started out working with student-athletes coming from underprivileged families in low-income communities in 2009. They use the power of sports to transform others’ lives by turning athletic ability into a lifetime opportunity.
“We brought any softball gear or equipment we didn’t use anymore to Cape Town with us and gave it to the people who held the clinic for the kids,” said McMahon. “Softball cleats, bats, gloves, batting gloves, balls, and any other equipment we wanted to give away.”
It gave them a satisfying feeling inside to know they were helping out and contributing to the lives of those who had less than them. It may have even helped give Olivia Zengel extra motivation for this upcoming season.
“Honestly, I think it helped me because I had a somewhat rough season last year so playing in a place where they don’t have the things that we have I see how they still have so much fun,” said Zengel who is entering her junior season at Kean. “Now coming back I just appreciate it so much more.”
The bar has been set even higher for the Kean softball team after capturing the NJAC championship last season.
Zengel’s goals include not only being herself all of the time, but to also win another NJAC championship.With a little extra motivation and drive from a humbling experience in South Africa, Olivia Zengel looks to have her best season yet as a Cougar.