Monday, February 27, 2017

Softball Meets Hockey

There’s always a sort of camaraderie among athletes. When you add in the factor that the athletes in question are women, the bond grows. So even if there’s a softball player and a hockey player, you can bet cash money that those two athletes are going to find a few common chords. With this in mind, Jean Joachim, author of the First & Ten football series, and the new Bottom of the Ninth baseball books, and I thought we’d bring two of our women athlete’s together.

Jean has brought Dusty Carmichael, who stars in Matt Jackson, Catcher, and I’ve brought Stephanie Huschuk, starting goalie for the Philadelphia Venom and leading lady from Angle Play, Venom #4. The New York Queens were gracious enough to send the Venom tickets to an early season game in Warminster. The women of the Venom enjoyed themselves and after the Queens game, Steph and Dusty headed to the Black Boar Inn to have a few beers, grab a bite, and talk about the difficulties and joys of being a woman in professional sports.


(We open with Dusty and Steph at the bar inside the famous Philadelphia sports bar. Two men are seated close to the women as they place their order. It’s obvious that the two gents are more than a little soused)

Dusty- “Hey, Pete! Can I get four more beers?”

The bartender nods. “I’ll bring them over to the Venom tables.”

Dusty – “Thanks.”

Don – “Hey ladies, this is my buddy Bob and I’m Don. You two looking for a good time?”

Steph – “He smells like he’s had enough good time to last him a week.” *waves her hand in front of her face*

Bob- *snickers* What's the matter, too tired after your badass game to carry a couple of friggin' beers?

Don- “Probably afraid that they'll break a nail.”

Dusty – “Who the hell asked you, dickwad?”

Bob- “- Oooh, look out the lady swears!”

Steph – “Wow, do we really have to do this kind of stuff here in a sports bar? Why don't you guys go sit back down and we'll send you a beer?”

Dusty –“Hey, Steph, got an extra puck? Jam one in this idiot's mouth, would ya?”

Bob – “You gonna pay for it, too? With those millions you make playing sissy hockey for girls?”

Steph – “I have a spare stick we can jam somewhere...”

*Dusty laughs*

Don- “If you had balls to back that threat up I'd be scared.”

Dusty - *looks down at Don* “He probably doesn’t have any either!”

Don – “Wouldn't you like to find out?”

Dusty – “Wouldn't you like to have a softball crammed up your butt?”

Bob – “Lie down, honey, I'll show you who has—“

Steph-“Okay, let's all just take a breather here before you get tossed out on your ass.”

Don- “Who's going to throw us out? You? Pft!” *has trouble blowing raspberry*

Dusty – “Don't tempt me.”

Bob –“Ooooooo, a couple of badass girl athlete wannabe's. Don't make me laugh.”

Steph – “I'm pretty sure Dusty and I could handle it but since we don't want to get cooties we'll just let the bartenders escort you out.”

Dusty – “Yeah. Why waste muscle on these jokers? They're not worth it. Probably flunked gym in school, too.”

Steph- “And rudimentary English. Come on.” *nudges Dusty back to the table*

Bob – “Hey! Where you goin'?”

Dusty –“To sit with real people, intelligent people. Great athletes instead of two losers.”

Bob – “Who you calling a loser?” *slides off barstool*

Steph – “Whoa okay, let's just sit back down. Come on, yunz don't want to have management called in. *waves at Pete* I mean, you two wouldn't really do well in a  tussle with the Wildcats."

Bob – “But you're not the Wildcats. You're the pussies.”

Steph – “Yeah, okay, that's enough.” *waves at the doorman*

Dusty – “Don't want to get my hands dirty. But I do have a baseball bat. Probably just the right fit for an asshole like you.”

Steph –“ And welcome to Sexism in Sports and America 101.”

*the women walk back to their table by the stage and sit down*

Steph – “Do you see a lot of that kind of stuff in softball? People hating on you for ‘playing a man's game’ and that kind of crap?”

Dusty-“We sure do. People say, "softball? That's a kid's game." *shakes her head*

Steph – “Ugh. I hate that. We get lots of crap too.”

Dusty - "Hard to get people to show up to the games. We run a deficit every year."

Steph – “Lots of fans - well male fans - think we're not really hockey players because our games 
aren't as physical as the men's are at times.”

Dusty – “Same here.”

Steph – “The barn is rarely full for our games.” *sighs*

Dusty – “Us, too.”

Steph- “And it sucks, you know? Because we play just as hard and have the same skills as the men.” *takes a sip of beer*

Dusty-“We sure do. We have to train harder. Some of our girls got into the sport later, you know in high school, whereas the guys have been playing since they were six. And we don't do it full time. I know you do. That must make a huge difference.”

Steph – “Yeah, coming into the sport later must make it harder. We're lucky in that our league is one of the few pro women's leagues that is managing to keep its head above the moment. With ticket sales low, I'm not sure how long we'll be able to keep the league up and that really sucks. There are so many girls who want to play hockey now.”

Dusty – “We only play for three months. And can't practice outside for about four or five. It hurts us not to be in better shape and play longer.”

Steph – “That must be tough.”

Dusty – “That's great that girls want to play hockey. Not too many know about our pro softball league. But we’ve grown since I started.”

Steph – “Yeah. It's hard. I wish more people would come out for women's sports. I don't buy that crud that we're not as exciting as the men. I know we sure work as hard as the guys do.”

Dusty – “Neither do I. We play our hearts out, every game. And things get tense. Games get close. Anything can happen, just like in pro baseball.”

Steph – “Exactly! Ugh, drives me crazy sometimes.” *sighs and takes a drink of her beer*

Dusty – “I've been playing for five years. Things are getting better, but it's slow.”

*Dusty raises her glass*

Steph – “That's a good long time. Do you have a lot of time on the road?”

Dusty –  During our three months, we play every day and travel a lot. But not far away. Our league is the mid-atlantic. So the trips are short. Thank God. I don't know how we'd do it if we had to go to like, San Francisco. Never happen. No money for planes.”

Steph – “Oh my gosh, we have the same jet issue! The Wildcats have a charter jet but we Venom are doing the train or bus thing. Takes forever to get to some of our games along the east coast. Travelling sucks too at times. Do you have a guy or gal at home?”

Dusty – “I do. Matt Jackson, catcher for the Nighthawks. How about you?”

Steph – “Oh ho, a ballplayer. Nice! Does that make it easier with him being an athlete too? I have a boyfriend, Greg, who's a professor at Temple. Having to go off and leave him all the time is terrible. There are women on my team with kids and husbands. I don't know how they do it. Love of the sport I guess.” *tosses a cashew into her mouth*

Dusty – “I know what you mean. Sometimes we're both on the road at the same time. It's hell. I'm hungry. Let's get food.” *Dusty finishes her beer*

Steph – “I bet. Like he's out west and you’re in Poughkeepsie or something. That sounds good. I'd love some pure junk. Greasy, cheesy stuff. Mmmmmm.”

Dusty – “You got it. Exactly. But there's something incredible about the homecomings. If you get my meaning.” *Dusty snickers and wiggles her eyebrows*.

Steph – “Homecomings are the best.” *winks*

*Dusty laughs and waves for server. She orders a burger with fried onions and sweet potato fries.*
Steph –“I’ll have a swiss burger with a side of curly fries.”

The server hustles back to the busy kitchen.

Steph – “So tell me more about your guy, Dusty. What do you do you and him do for fun when you're not on the road? Well, aside from fun in bed of course.”

Dusty - *blushes* “Well, he's in the business, so-to-speak. A lot of our free time is spent talking baseball, watching games and doing that shit. What about you?”

Steph – “That must be nice to have a boyfriend who's in the game. He really gets the stress of travelling and leaving someone you care about behind. Greg and I are really pretty much homebodies. When we do go out its to the philharmonic or dinner somewhere. We both love classical music. And he’s a professor so a lot of his time is chewed up with university stuff and meetings. It's not easy to find time for just us, you know?”

Dusty – “Do I know? If I'm not traveling, Matt is. It's depressing on season. Sometimes, I can go with him. Fortunately I have a short season. I work in an office the rest of the time. So I'm home at night. When he's home, yeah, we're homebodies. Maybe catch a movie. Or watch it on his big screen. We hang out a lot with his teammates.”

Steph – “That sounds like so many of my teammates as well. When you're on the road so much you just really want to den up when you're home. What's your favorite thing about being a pro athlete?”

Dusty – “Hard to say.  I like the competition. But I've always been an outdoors girl. I was a tomboy when I was little, tagging along after the guys. Fell in love with baseball and watched the high school boys play all the time. So I thought I'd try it. How about you?”

Steph – “That's awesome! I've been in hockey since I was little. We didn't have much growing up and I think I kind of knew that hockey would be my only way out of the little coal town outside ‘The Burgh’ where I was born. I really enjoy the competition as well and the camaraderie. Okay, so flip the question. What's your least favorite thing about being an pro athlete?”

Dusty – “Losing my family. I mean, they're still there. But we don't talk much. They tried hard to talk me out of playing pro ball. They said taking off 3 or 4 months would keep me from advancing and making more money. They were totally right, but I didn't care. So I did it anyway. They don't approve. Sure, I was broke all the time, shared a place with three other women, but I loved what I was doing. I'm a starting pitcher now. And I have Matt. I never would’ve met him, except for softball. I'm sorry they feel like that, but I've gotta be who I am. How about you?”

Steph – “Oh wow. That's so sad and so amazing all at once. *grabs Dusty's hand and squeezes it* I've had to make some really hard decisions about my life and what I want from it. I'm not going to go into details but I've given up some huge things to pursue my dream of being starting goalie for the Venom. Right now playing hockey is my everything and my family and Greg understand that. Thank God Greg does because we've given up so, SO much for the sport. I don't think fans realize just how much we sacrifice for our sport at times. *sighs* Wow, that went off to a sad place. Let's find something happier to talk about while we eat.”

 The women sit back as the food arrives.

Steph – “This looks great! So what do you want to talk about over burgers? Sports or men?”

Dusty – “Sex! We're going to the Caribbean for a week during off season. I'm hoping to get one of those places with a private mini pool. *Wiggles eyebrows*. I know this is personal, but do you ever do it in, like, unusual places?”

Steph – “Sex and burgers! That's a great combo. Oh man the Caribbean sounds incredible. I'm envious. Well, one time... *peeks over shoulder to make sure no one is listening* Greg and I might have sneaked into a closet at the philharmonic and had an overture of our own. But that's just between you and me.”

Dusty – “Oh, wow! My lips are sealed. Matt and I have never done anything that bold. I bet it was great, too. Wasn't it?”

Steph – “I never had either! It was super-hot and totally erotic. Thank God no one walked in or I would have died of embarrassment. Oh man, look at all this food. We're going to have to do double time on the bikes tomorrow to burn it off. *grabs beer* How about a toast before we dig in? To women in sports. We ROCK!”

Dusty *lifts beer mug* “We certainly do! To women in sports...and chocolate lava cake!”
The girls toast each other and dive in to enjoy the fine food and their new friendship.

The End

You can get to know Stephanie Huschuk better by reading her book Angle Play, Venom #4--

And Dusty Carmichael can be found in the pages of Matt Jackson, Catcher --


Cathy Brockman said...

That was a very fun post!

Jean Joachim said...

Thank you!

Kathleen Ball said...

love it!!

Trisha Faye said...

What fun! You two are so creative. Very unique.