The West Orange Girls Club has been serving the West Orange community since its foundation in 1978.
The club was established as a nonprofit organization to promote the “health, social, cultural, vocational and character development of the young women in our community,” according to its website.
The club also promotes scholastic achievement, sportsmanship, honesty and development of good character while offering girls in the community six baseball fields where they can also learn the sport of softball.
“We provide a place for any girl that wants to play softball to (be able) to play,” Recreational Director and Vice President Michaal Rossi said. “(Their) level of ability doesn’t matter. I have girls in my team (12U) that have never played before, middle schoolers who decided they wanted to try softball.”
The beauty of the club is the type of bond the girls form between them over the years they get to play together — from when they are 4 years old all the way to when they are 18 years old.
“It becomes a community, which is neat,” Rossi said.
SEASONS OF SOFTBALL
The West Orange Girls Club provides girls in Orange County with nine months of playtime during the year. The girls — of all categories — can enjoy two different leagues: spring and fall.
Currently, there are 113 girls enrolled in the spring season roster. According to Rossi, spring season usually sees a lower number of girls in the roster because of high school play. Last fall, for example, the club had about 140 girls.
“The really cool thing this year in the spring is that our senior division is smaller, because we have so many girls that made their high school teams,” Rossi said.
Because the West Orange Girls Club services all Orange County — girls come all the way from Clermont and other surrounding cities — the club has girls who have been playing there for years that are now part of the softball rosters at Horizon High, Windermere High, West Orange High, Olympia High and Lake Highland Prep.
The club also provides its girls the option of trying out for its travel baseball team, The Lady Hawks.
“It basically (comprises girls who) play in the recreational league who want to play a little bit more softball and want a little bit more of competition,” Rossi said.
The West Orange Girls Club is a place where any girl in the Orange County community can find a place to develop into well-rounded softball players. And once they join, they are taught much more than just the sport.
Adrian Nelson, the 10U coach for the spring season, has been coaching at the club for about three-and-one-half years. He believes in teaching the fundamentals of the sport and the meaning behind the word “leadership.”
“At our age group, we are just teaching the fundamentals: how to catch the ball, how to throw the ball, how to hit the ball, how to run, (while) putting the (girls) in the right positions to win the game,” he said. “At the end of the day, (the girls) learn how to be a leader, on and off the field.”
For Rossi, values stretch far beyond just knowing how to lead others and setting the example.
“(They learn) a sense of belonging and community, teamwork, (to have) pride in what they do, and (to have) confidence — that’s huge for girls,” she said.
Furthermore, volunteering and community service go hand-in-hand with the West Orange Girls Club. It is run entirely by volunteers.
WELCOMING SPRING 2023
The West Orange Girls Club will celebrate its Opening Day Ceremony Saturday, March 4, at the facility located at 881 Ocoee-Apopka Road, Ocoee.
The opening ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., the first games will take place at 10 a.m., and a second round of games will start at noon.
This is the first year the West Orange Girls Club is part of the Babe Ruth League, so the girls will be playing teams from Tavares, Sorrento, Mount Dora and Leesburg, among other cities around the state.