Dozens of girls took the Little League Field this week to play, learn and have fun with the game of softball as Heights’ Leslie Korkgy-Valenti once again presented the Softballstarz summer camp.
This year the girls walked away with much more than sharper skills on the field. They got to meet and speak with many coaches who have played at the college level, met a former member of the White Sox and a former scout for the Dodgers.
One of the most important lessons they got is one that is Korkgy-Valenti holds dear. As it is the 40th anniversary of Title IX, legislation that banned sexual discrimination in schools for athletics, she wanted the girls to know how fortunate they are to have the opportunities they have today in sports.
When she was growing up, she realized that she was among the first generation to have equality in sports teams. Her appreciation for this .
All week long the girls received instruction in pitching, catching and batting from many of the members of the All Starz family.
Korkgy-Valenti opened All Starz about three years ago. It’s located in Lodi and serves the Heights and surrounding communities. She also brought in guest coaches like high school softball coach Jackie Ferranti and the girls also worked with Jose Antigua who was a catcher with the White Sox in the early 1990s.
Frank Bodner, a former scout with the LA Dodgers, spoke to the girls about the importance of keeping their grades up in school, as what they do off the field will also help them on the field.
The girls also got a taste for what the future may be like if they want to keep playing softball as they got to hear from people who coach college teams and from some who have played in college championships.
Rocco Constantino, who is head coach of the softball team at Bloomfield College, visited to tell the kids about the many opportunities they have before them.
He spoke of the importance of learning as it is something they will always continue to do. With 30 years of playing behind him, he finds he is still learning when he is on the field. Learning from one’s mistakes can be a positive thing as well as remembering the successes one has had on the field, he told the girls.
The girls got to learn from guest instructors like Erin Trippi, a catcher whose softball team at Hofstra got in to the Division 1 super regionals for the first time in the school’s history.
Korkgy-Valenti has even more plans to take the summer clinic even further. She is working on a developmental program where All Starz will develop teams for under 14 and under 12 girls so they can play in a tournament next summer. She pointed out the programs are open to athletes who are serious about their sport but do not have to necessarily be the best athlete. She is not looking for the elite and will not cut kids. She wants to give them all the opportunity to play.
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