Maria, a centerfielder for the Foresters who will begin her senior year at the College this fall, has been playing first base for Greece, one of 17 countries competing in the European Championships. In seven games at the event so far she is batting .454 (10-for-22) with a triple, home run, seven runs scored, and seven drive in. Greece split four games on Tuesday and Wednesday to place third in the tourney's only five-team pool. After three more victories, the team will play for ninth place on Saturday.
The tryout process for Maria was unique. Since the team is base overseas, its coaches and recruiters had to use video from Lake Forest College games, follow her statistics online, and speak with individuals who had seen her play to decide whether she was worthy of a roster spot. That was also the case for several other members of the team, some of whom compete at the NCAA Division I level. Players selected to the team trained on their own before gathering for a camp the week before the European Championships. For Maria, training also included learning a new position. "I've played in the outfield and on the left side of the infield my whole life," she explains. "My coach asked me to get some reps in at first so we will see what happens. I love new challenges!"
Maria's experience as a Forester has been valuable as she competes at an even higher level. "Playing at Lake Forest has taught me so much about myself as a player," she began. "I can humbly say that my coaches and teammates have held me accountable to become a more disciplined, patient, and hard working player on and off the field. Coach Kinsella, personally, has taught me how to be more confident in myself and my abilities while also improving my mental game."
The experience Team Hellas players gain in this week's international competition will also be extremely valuable as they work toward their goal of winning next summer's Olympic qualifier and earning a spot in the 2020 Games in Tokyo (read more). Many players on the team, including Maria, are fundraising for the travel expenses, many of which are out-of-pocket, associated with attending the tournaments they hope will prepare them for their ultimate goal.
The experience so far has made a significant impact on Maria. "Everything to this point has been extremely exciting. I am so honored to play and represent a country I love so much!"
Photo from Spirakis Images