Elms softball players, coach to compete internationally

CHICOPEE — Elms College softball player Sarah Buckley of Wilbraham, along with teammate Jenna Lipscomb were selected along with Assistant Coach Allie Fox to compete on Team American International Sports Travel (AIST) Softball in June of 2012.

“This is a wonderful honor for these three to be selected to participate abroad and represent Elms College,” Elms Head Softball Coach Cheryl Condon, who is entering her 26th season at the helm, said. “This is not only a great recognition for these three women, but for our Blazers softball program.”

Coaches and players are invited to participate by AIST and rosters are comprised of NCAA Division I, II and III as well as NAIA and Junior College athletes and coaches and selection criteria is based on a player’s statistical performance. Third baseman Rachel Butt of Agawam was also selected to participate but cannot because of a season-ending knee injury.

“This is a pretty nice honor to be selected out of thousands of players in the United States,” said Lipscomb who graduates this winter. “This is a great chance for me to play some softball one last time.”

Buckley, Lipscomb and Fox will be traveling to Italy in early June and will visit such places as Rome, Florence, Vatican City and Tuscany, providing for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Fox, who has had the experience of playing with players from across the country and Canada, will get her first opportunity to play in a completely different country.

“Being an assistant coach for this team is an incredible opportunity,” Fox said. “Any time I can work with new athletes and coaches is great as it gives me other perspectives both about softball and in general. I am thrilled to be working with these dedicated student athletes from all collegiate levels. In order to be chosen for this team you have to be a dedicated, hardworking player, and as a coach there is nothing more rewarding than working with student athletes like that.”

AIST has been doing international sports tours for teams and individuals since 2002 and has expanded into more than 22 different countries around the world. The program has established partnerships with several major tour operating companies in many different countries allowing for the ultimate athlete experience.

AIST receives invitations to participate in tournaments from around the world. Most of the tournaments have national teams competing as well as local club teams. Exhibition games are also scheduled when possible before tournaments to give athletes more opportunities to compete. Most teams will compete in five to seven games during a 10-day period, while the rest of the tour involves sightseeing and cultural education. Past softball tour destinations have included the Czech Republic, Italy, the Dominican Republic and Sweden.

The AIST sports programs are categorized as collegiate, high school, club and adult, and are designed to give individuals the freedom to explore their surroundings on their own or join one of the many planned events during the tour. This kind of flexibility allows each individual to experience the tour at their own pace and create a unique experience.

“I hope that they get a lot out of playing with other softball players who are as dedicated and talented as they are,” Fox said of Buckley and Lipscomb. “I think any chance you have to work with people from different places and backgrounds is an amazing opportunity.

“This is also a unique experience in that they will not meet their teammates until close to the first game. I think learning how to quickly work with others in a team setting is not only a softball skill, but a life skill as well and something I know they will achieve with ease on this trip,” she added.

Until the adventure in June, the focus is still on the Blazers’ upcoming season which starts in March 2012.

“I’m not even thinking about Italy at this point,” Buckley stated. “I’m focused on what I need to do to get ready for this season and how are team is going to fit together especially with the loss of some amazing players like Jenna. It’s going to be a good year, I have some very good feelings about it.”

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