(From left) Meaghan Kinnee

(From left) Meaghan Kinnee

Ridge Meadows Pride heading south of border

Six members of local softball team land scholarships

For Colin Kinnee and the rest of the coaching staff with the Ridge Meadows Pride ’93 midget fastpitch team, getting their players scouted and signed to softball scholarships has been a priority for the past two years.

Now that the players on the team are set to graduate from high school, Kinnee is understandably proud of what the team has accomplished.

If one Pride ’93 player had landed a scholarship, it could have been considered a success.

“There’s six girls from our team who got scholarships in the States, so we’re pretty happy with that,” said Kinnee.

Nicole Atkinson, Christina Wright, Meaghan Kinnee, Hilary Novakowski, Melanie Rowson and Haley Clark will all be attending post-secondary school gratis thanks to earning softball scholarships.

While the majority have signed on to play for two-year community colleges, third baseman Novakowski will be headed to Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina on a dual volleyball and softball scholarship to play for the NCAA Division II Golden Bulls.

“She is a very strong hitter,” said Kinnee. “She’s our clean-up hitter, so we look to her for power.”

Atkinson, one the Pride’s two starting pitchers, is headed to North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene. Atkinson has played with the Ridge Meadows Minor Softball Association since the mite level.

“The opportunity is there to go through a two-year program and finish off at a university,” said Kinnee.

Wright, the Pride’s centre fielder, is headed to Kanas to Seward County Community College, while Melanie Rowson is off to Western Nebraska College.

Kinnee’s daughter, Meaghan, the team’s other starting pitcher, is headed to Texas and Trinity Valley College, as is Clark, the Pride’s catcher, who will be attending Clarendon College.

The scholarship offers came in large part to the Pride’s play south of the border, as the team has spent much of the past two seasons traveling to scouting tournaments all across the Western U.S., to Texas, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada.

“We started preparing them three years ago, when they were in bantam, and took them to a tournament in Idaho,” said Kinnee. “Last year we focussed heavily on getting them out to these tournaments.”

But ultimately, it’s the girls’ hard work, on the field and off, that has earned them their scholarships.

“They’re the ones putting videos together and emailing all these schools,” said Kinnee. “We’re just trying to give them opportunities and open doors for them.”

The Pride will be taking part in the  2011 Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship starting July 9 at Softball City in Surrey.

“It’s a big showcase,” said Kinnee. “You’re not going to get 250 coaches like you do at some of the ones in the States, but we hope it grows.”