A trio of locals — Lee Liddick, Brian Travis and Kamilah Holden — look to help girls accomplish their softball dreams with the new Divergent organization.
A simple word, “divergent,” according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, means being “to be different,” and its synonyms include words such as “varying,” “contrasting” and “disparate.”
It’s also the perfect word that describes what the trio of locals Lee Liddick, Brian Travis and Kamilah Holden — with help from their families — are hoping to do for the softball community in West Orange County. For them, it was the perfect name for their brand new travel-ball team that will reach into Dr. Phillips, Windermere, Winter Garden and other areas for talent.
“The old adage is, ‘If you don’t like what is going on, just go do it yourself,’ and that’s kind of what we did,” said Liddick, who lives in Windermere. “We want to be different — we want to be a different travel-ball organization where we are going to be in the community.”
Zero to 100
The idea to start the team originally came out of a desire to do more — for both the community and for the trio’s own daughters.
“We just wanted better things for our daughters, and we weren’t finding that as far as the softball world is concerned,” Liddick said.
Travis, who played football at the University of Florida and owns Milan Construction LLC, has also dealt with issues during the time his two daughters have been playing softball.
“I got involved with putting this organization together because of the politics that are played in the softball community, and we have been a part of the since my daughters were 5 and 6 years old — so we’ve been a part of that for five-and-a-half to six years now,” Travis said. “We were with a team that I think the leaders of the organization, life happened for them — they got called into their personal business, and they had to go work.”
With mutual interests in place, putting together the team was the logical next step. More often than not, establishing a sports team takes a long time to plan out and get organized, but that wasn’t the case for Divergent.
In less than two weeks Liddick, Travis and Holden had settled on a name, branding — thanks to a graphic designer friend of Travis’ — and organizational duties. The latter part was easy to put into place thanks to their respective backgrounds. Liddick took over the administration/public relations work, Travis became president and the organization’s bank thanks to his successful business, and Holden — a collegiate softball hall-of-famer at Bethune-Cookman University — became the acting head coach.
“It has definitely been a journey, and it is moving fairly quickly, because each of us has such a great passion for what we are doing and for what we want to do for girls,” Holden said. “I’m loving to see how it unfolds. I’m one of those people who likes to work hard, and I expect hard work, and I’m one of those kind of people (who) doesn’t mind bringing people along, but we all have a different skill set, and we just gel so well together.”
A MORE DIVERSE GAME
Last week, the organization held its first workouts for its inaugural 12U and 14U teams. About 15 girls participated.
It’s in the earliest of stages for these girls, but Holden said she has big plans for them.
“My goal is to be able to develop girls — to develop their skill and mental understanding of the game so that they will be encouraged to take risks and to build the grit that they need to really be a threat on the field,” Holden said.
The organization is only fielding two teams, but the hope is to eventually add more and expand its boundaries across Orlando. Currently, the organization is working through plans to reach out into underprivileged areas and hold camps and other events to help give opportunities to girls who otherwise wouldn’t get to play the game.
“I’ve been in touch with Commissioner Regina Hill with the city of Orlando, and we are currently in talks with branching off into the less-fortunate communities, as well as create a city league where we will have divisions,” Travis said. “That’s where I would like to see this thing grow into.”
Travel ball is an expensive endeavor, and that often prevents some girls from participating, Holden said.
Holden herself grew up with her grandmother in an underserved neighborhood. When she played Little League softball, she needed help from coaches to get her to and from practice. That’s why her passion to see the game embrace diversity is so important.
“It costs money to play, to be a part of a team, and it costs money to travel,” Holden said. “Not a lot of practices are happening within the community itself — they would have to travel outside of the community to get those opportunities for their kids. It’s important that we build every community — that we do our part.”