North Shore Stars '98 brave new territory this season
It’s a tier in professional sports occupied by only a handful of the world’s most elite athletes — Michael Jordan did it twice, along with longtime teammate Scottie Pippen. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Derek Jeter are part of the group too.
Exclusive, it seems, is the clique of the three-peat.
Yet this year, another team has its eye on the renowned club. But this squad doesn’t compete on the glitzy hardwood of the NBA or the manicured field of Yankee Stadium — this team calls North Vancouver’s McCartney Field home.
“The quest for three is a big quest,” says Mike Boehm, coach of the North Shore Stars ’98, winners of two straight provincial girls’ fastball championships.
"But I think there is less pressure this year.”
That lack of pressure, says Boehm, can be attributed to the team’s jump to the under-14 “A” division this season, the first North Shore A team in Softball BC’s elite category in 10 years.
The jump in division has brought with it an expected jump in competition. This year, the Stars have gone 2-2 to start the season— two years ago they went undefeated —but that record could easily be a winning one, as the Stars dropped a recent hard-fought game 5-4 to the North Delta Heat.
The Stars started the game slowly and found themselves in a quick 4-1 hole before coming back to tie the game in the late innings. Unfortunately, the Heat would score the winning run in its final at bat.
The Stars' first victory came against the Ridge Meadows squad two weeks ago in a close 2-1 game. Their second came over the North Delta Heat 8-6.
“When we beat Ridge Meadows 2-1…it was a great game and the girls came to the park focused,” says Boehm.
“When they’re all focused, they are definitely an A team. Both Ridge Meadows and North Delta are long established A programs and we have shown both teams we can play with them.”
A major hurdle this year, according to some of the Stars’ players, has been getting used to the pitching. Megan Palmer, the Stars’ standout pitcher, says the girls they’ve been facing so far throw faster then they’re used to and have more pitches in their arsenal.
Practice, as well, has been a factor in the team getting acclimated to their new division. The majority of the Stars’ roster has been playing together for five years but many of the players juggle multiple sports. Their competition, however, is focused almost solely on fastpitch.
“Part of the reason the teams are a lot better this year is because they practice all year in the gym,” says Dani Payne, herself a basketball, volleyball and soccer player, in addition to her role on the Stars.
But that practice and focus is something the Stars are hoping to learn as they continue to play together, championships or not.
“We’re trying hard,” says Sasha Boehm, a longtime Stars player.
“And we’re hoping for more experience and just to get better,” adds Palmer.
For more information on the North Shore Girls’ Fastpitch Association, visit nsfastpitch.ca.