Moms always there through thick and thin
Their love is unconditional. They’re support unwavering.
And between the lines, while their athlete kids may not always hear them or even see them, they always know they’re there.
As often as being seated in the bleachers, sports moms can be found in the concession stand or taking tickets during Berkeley Stags sporting events. They are as much an integral part of the night’s event as the players and coaches.
For the Berkeley Lady Stags softball team, the players’ moms are a lot like a sorority.
They sit in the same section occupying three rows on the left side of the home bleachers. One mom blazes a trail back and forth between the bleachers and the concession stand and press box while another has her face buried in a book … a scorebook, that is.
Denise Kullnat, a former softball player and mother to Ashtin Kullnat, keeps the official scorebook for Coach Boogie Grooms and the Lady Stags. Things don’t officially happen until she says they do and fills the appropriate diamond with a run scored, the type of hit and the play result.
For Kullnat, it is all about being there for her daughter in heart and spirit.
“When I watch my daughter play softball, I am filled with a multitude of emotions ranging from excitement to fear,” she said. “My excitement comes from the love of the game and watching her play it. The fear comes from knowing how my daughter’s feeling when the team is down by one run and there are two outs and she is up to bat. The joy I feel when she gets a base hit or scores that winning run is priceless.”
For Kullnat, the end of her Lady Stags softball career is bittersweet as next year Ashtin takes her softball career to the next level at Florence Darlington Tech.
For Karen Marsch, mother of senior first baseman Katie Marsch, a typical game involves four or five trips to the concession stand, or the press box, or the front gate. It’s not that Karen gets particularly hungry during softball games and eats a lot of hot dogs, she’s usually in one of three places helping out.
“Sitting in the stands watching Katie for the last 14 years has filled my life with laughter, joys, friendships and sometimes even tears,” she said. “If you have had the chance to sit with us softball moms then you would see how much we love it ... cheering, singing, laughing and sometimes even embarrassing our girls by our silliness.
Marsch said she has forged some great friendships: “We are all bonded together by one of the things we love most, our daughters.”
Marsch saw this season as a confliction of emotions with this being her daughter’s final year on the diamond. “This season has been amazing and sad all at the same time as it was Katie's senior year,” she said. “Katie's last year of softball and my last year of being a softball mom. I wouldn't trade all the cold nights in the stands, the long drives to games, or the hectic schedule we kept for anything.
“The joy I got from being a softball mom is a priceless memory I will always cherish.”
For daughter Katie, having her mom there to support her (Dad, too) is important.
“It means a lot to have them cheering me on in the stands and it’s good after the game when they can give me constructive criticism,” she said. “It’s nice having them out there. Even though I have eight teammates behind me it’s nice to know they’re out there supporting me.”
Watching your daughter compete on the playing field usually doesn’t begin with their freshman year in high school. Varsity softball players regularly make the varsity roster and see playing time as seventh and eighth graders.
Kim Price, mother of Lady Stags’ third baseman Blake Ponder has been watching her daughter play softball since she was 5 and first began playing for Moncks Corner Parks and Recreation.
“From a very early age she has had a natural talent that has just amazed anyone who watched her play,” Price said. “Although she has played volleyball and basketball for years as well, softball is her love and hopefully she will play in college.
“I never tire of the games, the tournaments, the travel, the 12-15 hour days at the field, I just love to watch her play. I don't know if I tell her enough, but she makes me very proud every time she steps on the field. She doesn't have to hit a home run to make me proud, and if she ever strikes out, it doesn't make me sad; just watching her play her favorite sport, with the passion that she has for it is enough for me.”
It is a mother’s love for her daughter, and pride in her accomplishments, that makes these games both easy and hard to watch at times.
For Angela Pinson, mother of sophomore Peyton Pinson being a softball mom, or a mom in any sport, is a great feeling.
“I can’t deny I am beaming every time my baby girl steps up to bat or plays on the field, but that’s only half of the story,” she said. “As team moms we also bond together and become a cheerleader for each player on the field. We rally together whether the score is up or down in hopes to cheer our Lady Stags to victory.”
Laura Stone’s job is probably the toughest of the softball moms. Her daughter is Lady Stags’ pitcher Brooklyn Stone, just an eighth grader. She is playing and competing with girls four and five years older and more mature than she is, and she holds her own quite well.
Watching both her daughters grow up on the diamond has become as normal a part Stone’s life.
“As a parent sitting on the bleachers game after game, tournament after tournament I feel like it is just another day,” she said. “I have spent the last eight years traveling with both of my daughters while they give it their all on the softball field. I have watched them grow into beautiful young ladies. I would not give this time up for anything in the world. They are, this is, my world.”
Diane Kizer has watched two of her kids rise through the ranks of Berkeley Stags athletics. Son Matthew, who graduated in 2012 and now attends Clemson, and daughter Sydney who is enjoying her first varsity season as a member of the Lady Stags.
“Being the mother of a high school athlete in my opinion means you are person who must wear many hats – caregiver, teacher, psychologist, time manager, banker and cheerleader are just a few,” she said. “Each season is unique in what roles are needed but by switching hats regularly somehow we manage.
“As a mother of two athletic children, I have been blessed to watch them participate in multiple sports over the years and admit to feeling pride in their accomplishments but greater joy in seeing the discipline and effort they put toward each sport. My prayer is that they take something positive from their experiences in high school sports and have no doubt that their biggest fan is mom.”
So moms, stand up and take a bow. Your daughters know you’re there and they love you for it.
And win or lose, their daughters know these moms love them in return. Unconditionally.