Oct. 10, 2010
By Jon Cooper
The true spirit of homecoming was on display Sunday afternoon at Mewborn Field, when the Georgia Tech softball team played its annual Alumnae Game.
“It’s a great opportunity for past players such as myself, even though I still coach, to see what this team is going to look like come spring and I think it’s also a good time to bond with people who have played in the past,” said current Tech assistant coach Aileen Morales. “It will be a fun day. We’ll get to know each other and share past stories. Everybody’s gone to school here, it’s just a matter of playing ball at different times.”
Morales, who played shortstop from 2005 through 2008 and left as the ACC’s career leader in runs (she was fourth in stolen bases), is one of the school’s three All-Americans coming back to play for the alumnae team. Morales pointed out that’s a pretty good percentage, considering the Yellow Jackets have six in the history of the program.
The other two who participated Sunday were former shortstop Tara Knudsen, who starred from 2001 through 2004 and left as the ACC’s career home run leader, and Jen Yee, whose accolades last season alone included being named 2010 USA Softball Player of the Year.
The game is win-win situation, as the alumnae, get to meet the current team, while the youngsters get an opportunity to meet and show their appreciation to their predecessors.
“I think when you’re playing, it’s a time in your career you don’t always realize what came before you and what people did to build the program,” Morales said. “Doing events like this allows that opportunity. It gets the current players to see, ‘Wow, these are the girls who helped build this team. It wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the people who played 10 years ago.'”
While Morales, like all alumnae, is still a competitor, she realizes that there is a reason the word “old” is in the middle of the phrase “good old days.”
“In all fairness, you want to relive your glory days but when you’re not out there practicing as much and on a consistent basis — the team right now puts in 20 hours a week of either softball or weights — as much as you want to think you’re as good as when you played, usually you’re not quite as sharp,” she said. “I mean Jen Yee is still playing. She’s been playing all summer. So I’m sure she’ll have a couple of home runs. But all in all, a lot of the times it’s a little blow to the ego because you expect to do a little better than you actually do.”
Seeing the bigger picture, she also knows that the word “Good” comes first in that phrase. That’s also for a reason.
Participating, then getting to share stories is the most and enjoyable part of the Alumnae Game, which she was happy to say, has seen substantial growth in attendance.
“I think my senior year was one of the first times we did it and it was hard to get people out,” said Morales. “The Tech campus has been here for 100 and something years. “There is common ground in Georgia Tech and softball. Although it changes, it still remains the same.”