This summer two of my dreams will come true, playing in an international tournament and traveling abroad. These dreams were made possible when I was invited by AIST (American International Sports Teams) to play on one of their softball teams. This program selects athletes who have performed well in their previous season or have been seen by AIST scouts that travel the nation, giving athletes the opportunity to travel abroad to play their sport of choice. These athletes are at the college level, playing in NCAA division I, II, III, NAIA, or Jr. College. The idea is to give players a lifelong memory and the honor of representing the United States. These tours could also open doors to a future playing for a professional team abroad. Even though this is a US team not all players who participate in the program have to be from the US. AIST has softball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, basketball, field hockey, football, and volleyball teams. Tours are available in Australia, the Dominican Republic, Holland, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, San Marino, and Prague. The team I am playing on consists entirely of college level players, but AIST provides teams for U19 and U18 at the high school level, and for entire teams who are interested in traveling abroad. My story starts this past fall when I received an email from my college softball coach, Nicole Hinerman at Saint Vincent College (D-III) in Latrobe, Pa. This email was a message that she received from AIST President, Chad Wilkinson, inviting three of my teammates and me to play on the Prague tour team or the Italy tour team. Three of us, myself included, had received the honor of being selected PAC All-Conference the previous season, and the fourth girl had received that honor the year before. Our selection for the invitation was based on our statistics and our selection to the All-Conference team. I am a chemistry major with a biology minor, therefore I do not have the opportunity to participate in a semester abroad program, so I jumped at the chance to travel with this tour and play softball.
I chose to participate in the Prague Softball tour. This tournament has had participation in the past by the Czech National Team, German National Team, Scotland, England, Australia, Sweden, Russia, and several others. On the 22nd of July I will finally be taking my long awaited trip to Europe. We will be spending time in Munich, Germany and Prague, Czech Republic. During the trip, we will be touring the two cities seeing sites like the Olympic Stadium, Dachau Concentration Camp, castles, cathedrals, and the many wonders of these two beautiful, culture- rich cities. Another softball team consisting of players in a higher division of the NCAA and a baseball team will be traveling with my team, as well. I am the lone player from the East coast of the United States on my team, and between the three teams I am one of only two players from Pennsylvania. The opportunity to meet players from many diverse backgrounds, and the amazing setting of the tour will provide a once in a lifetime memory as my softball career comes to a close within the next year. Now all that is left is to pack and play some ball!
For more information about AIST you can visit aist.us, follow them on Twitter @aist20, or like them on Facebook, TeamAIST. If you follow them on the social media you can also see updates about my trip to Prague and other trips.