Laura Wallin has a niche for crafts.
Since softball season is in full swing, Wallin’s two latest creations have featured softballs. Wallin, whose daughter, Chloe Ross, plays on the Clarksville softball team, created flowers out of softballs for the team for their game against Collins-Maxwell on June 25, which was the Indians’ lone loss of the season, 1-0.
After Wallin found some inspiration from Pinterest, she, along with Callie Vance and the Clarksville Lumberyard teamed up to created a heart-shaped pocket, made out of a softball.
Once word got out about the softball pockets hanging on the dugout at the Volunteer Park softball diamond in Clarksville, the community, fans, coaches and players scripted encouraging messages to the Indians’ softball team.
Wallin said creating the softball pockets was worth the time spent, making each pocket unique with the players and coaches’ names and uniform numbers.
It gave her, and the community, a chance to recognize the special traits of the 2019 Clarksville softball team.
“These girls are just a really great group of girls,” Wallin said. “They are very sweet and kind and do stuff for everybody. They are always willing to help out, and they are good to each other. They are a good group of kids and when you have a good group of kids, it’s not hard to want to do something for them.”
Before leaving for the state softball tournament on Monday, the softball pockets were dispersed to the team during the sendoff at Clarksville High School.
Cheyenne Behrends read one of her notes, “Cheyenne, what a season for you to remember. Congrats on all of your playing this season. Great memories. Good luck on Monday and go Indians.”
Behrends said the notes have been popular between the softball team and the Clarksville community.
“We all love them,” Behrends said. “It was such a good idea, especially since it was Laura [Wallin]’s idea. We all love it, especially since the whole community became a part of it. There is so many notes. It just goes to show how much support we have in our community.”
Bailey Myers is one of the two seniors on the Indian softball squad. For Myers personally, reading notes from her teammates, coaches and fans have given her a boost of confidence.
Every day, Myers pulls a note out of a jar that holds all of the notes she’s received throughout the season.
“I just mix them up and pull one out,” Myers said. “That’s what I go through. Each day, I read one note, and it really helps with my confidence.”
Myers also glanced at her notes during Monday’s sendoff before her and the Clarksville softball team embarked on their trip to Fort Dodge. Her note read, “I’m so proud of you for ending your season here. Don’t just play today, dominate.”
One of Myers’ favorite parts about the softball pockets is that it’s brought people together, whether it’s her teammates when they read their notes or the community members that pen encouragement before games.
“These notes have really gotten us to where we are,” Myers said. “I feel like it was a really encouraging thing for them to do. We get notes from the community every game, and we put them on the back of the dugout. We talk about them together, since we all read them together. It’s so nice seeing our community and the support that we have.”
Sierra Vance, a Clarksville freshman, is making her first trip to the state softball tournament this season with the varsity squad.
During the sendoff rally on Monday, Vance read a note from Clarksville’s assistant coach, Taylor Arenholtz.
It said, “I’m so proud of you for executing whatever position we put you in. You have proven yourself time and time again. Let’s do this.”
Vance said receiving notes from her teammates, their families and other Clarksville softball fans has proven just how much support the team has from the community.
“Before each game, we put on Facebook that the note holders will be down at the field, so community members can come down and put a note in,” Vance said. “It’s been really encouraging reading them before games and seeing how many people actually follow us along.”
Clarksville head coach Katie Wedeking and Wallin initially thought the softball pockets would be something that stayed between the players, coaches and their families.
However, it blossomed into something much bigger.
With the community catching onto the softball pocket idea, Wedeking said it helps the players on her team remember who they are playing for each game – the town of Clarksville and all of the proud fans that support the Indians.
“She [Wallin] asked if we could hang them on the fence for the first regional game, and we were thinking some parents and players would just put in notes for each other,” Wedeking said. “But, it ended up being a lot of the community members that came up and put notes in, too. Getting notes right before the game really pumps them up, too. They know they are playing for a much bigger crowd than what they might think.”