California and Ohio are two states with seemingly no connection between their different weather and lifestyles. But on the Ohio State softball team, the players embrace their differences, and as a result, have become a more cohesive unit.
The Ohio State softball team currently has 19 players on their roster, 10 of which hail from the state of California.
“There are a lot of players out there,” coach Linda Kalafatis said. “It is probably the best location in the world for fastpitch softball, and the competition level is pretty consistent. Not only are they able to play more, but they are able to play at a really high level.”
Every team in the Big Ten has at least one California player on its roster, but Ohio State’s 10 players are the most in the conference, topping Penn State’s seven.
It is no surprise that different backgrounds have forced all 19 players to adjust to each other’s lifestyles. Though change can cause problems, the team has welcomed the differences in a positive way.
“There is definitely some friendly jabbing at each other here and there,” All-American catcher Sam Marder said.
This was evident in the opposing views of each other’s footwear.
“The California girls wear Vans and the Ohio girls wear Crocs,” Marder said. “I just think those are ridiculous shoes, but they think my Vans come from Wal-Mart.”
The music scene has also caused the California players to flex their muscles in the locker room.
“With music, you don’t get anything out here until four months later,” freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols said.
Additionally, Columbus does not seem to exude the same excitement as Southern California.
“They are probably more country, while we are fast-paced city people,” sophomore shortstop Alicia Herron said.
Not only do the players have to make adjustments on the field, but changes are necessary in the wardrobe department as well.
“I never owned a winter coat before I came here, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to wear,” Marder said.
While the California athletes miss their tans and tantalizing beaches, they have fallen in love with the state of Ohio. Though the cold weather can be a burden for many Ohio natives, the California women appreciate the conditions.
“The biggest thing I love out here is the four seasons,” Herron said. “Along with the changing of the leaves, it’s a different wardrobe, weather and climate. I love all that about Ohio.”
The biggest struggle for most of the California players is how far away they are from home.
“The first couple of weeks I got here it was really hard because I am really close with my family,” Nichols said. “But, they support me in everything I do, so that makes it a lot easier, but of course I still miss them.”
While the team depends on Marder most of the time to produce the big hit, she equally depends on her teammates for support off the field.
“Ohio really feels like a second home to me because I have been here so long and I go to the girls’ homes for the holidays,” Marder said. “Whether we kid around with each other here and there, the girls welcome us into their home, and at the same time, let us really make it a home of our own. I will always be really grateful for that.”
Though the Buckeyes are diverse in background, team chemistry is not an issue. No matter where the player is from, all 19 players have the same expectation: winning.
“I think it is one of the beautiful things we do here,” Kalafatis said. “We mesh all those personalities and differences into one cooperating group.”
The players have been united under the recruitment and leadership of Kalafatis.
Kalafatis believes there is no connection between her alma mater, California University of Pennsylvania, and her recruiting strategy.