Founded in the summer of 2012, Ewha Playgirls is a group of girls which enjoy baseball. Though it started off as a mere interest in baseball, it has grown to form a strong team.At first, Ewha Playgirls was only an idea in the minds of the founders, Lee Myung-jin (Political Science & International Relations, 4) and Kim Sung-jin, the owner of the Gama-bean cafe in front of Ewha and also the current team coach. Lee was a regular customer of Kim’s café, and she often talked about her interest in baseball as she chatted with Kim. Then one day, Kim suggested actually putting the idea of gathering Ewha students to form a baseball team into practice.
“I was always interested in baseball, but I never expected that I would become an active participant,” Lee said. “When I talked about my interest in baseball to coach Kim, he recommended me to find Ewha students who were interested in baseball to start playing ball together.”
When Lee recruited interested students, more than 40 students signed up. She was surprised that such great number of Ewha students showed interest in baseball.
As baseball is a game that requires well-rounded teamwork and cooperation as the best merit of playing baseball comes from the time and effort spent with the other teammates.Practicing and participating in games together, the members are able to build a close union among themselves.
“There is little chance for women to play a team sport,” Bong Ye-na (Human Movement Studies, 4) said. “I feel lucky to be able to play a team sport with Ewha students who share the same interest and passion as myself.”
After warming up by running laps and stretching, members find their own place in the field to practice individual positions. Although teamwork is essential, it is hard for the members to practice all together and build routines at the moment as their baseball skills vary. As members of Ewha Playgirls are those who have signed up purely on the basis of their interest in baseball, members have had little or no experience in actually playing the game. Thus, even if they know the rules and the theoretical methods, some members find it hard to get used to catching, throwing and hitting the ball.
“Throwing and catching are much harder than what I expected it to be,” Chung Yoo-rim (Social Studies Education, 2) said. “But playing ball and getting to know the team members are a lot of fun and I want to practice harder to become a valuable member here.”
To motivate the players and build upon their interest in baseball, coach Kim came up with the idea of holding a team battle. They call this the “Blue versus White Competition” in which the athletes divide into two teams and compete with each other. Even though they practice with soft balls and with face-guards on, their fervor is hot enough to fill the field with heat.
“Actually, seeing the girls miss a ball is more frequent than seeing them catch one,” coach Kim said. “However, The competition structure of the game motivates them to practice harder. I see them improve day by day.”
Despite the joyful practice, there are several difficulties they face as young female baseball players.
The first problem is the lack of adequate place to practice. The lumpy surface of the Ewha Athletics Track, which is where they practice most of the time, may lead to injuries among the players as it is not a place suitable for baseball.
Players must also look out for injuries when playing games because injuries are common in baseball, as in any other sport. Getting red and blue bruises on their legs and suffering from muscle pain are nothing new for the players, but there may be serious injuries if they are not careful.
“When we visited the indoor baseball practice center, one of our players accidentally hit another player with a bat,” coach Kim said. “If she had not budged right away, she might have gotten a permanent injury on her face.”
While trying to overcome the difficulties and avoid any further injuries, a new goal has been set for the team: entering a real league to compete with other amateur teams. They are looking forward to develop their skills and physical abilities to compete with other baseball teams in the future.
“We envy male university teams because they have many teams their age to compete with,” Lee said. “There are several female amateur teams that we could meet with if we wanted to, but none are of our age. Not being able to share our interest with other female baseball teams of our similar age group is a little disappointing.”
Ewha Playgirls is planning to register as an official club at Ewha and the Women’s Baseball Association of Korea is offering them to register as an official team as well. Lee believes it will be a huge stepping stone to reaching their dream.
“It will require more energy and time for us to become something similar to a professional baseball team,” Lee said. “Still the ultimate goal of the Ewha Playgirls is to meet many people who love baseball and play games together.”