Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Pitt Women's Softball Afraid of Balls

After an unsuccessful 21-33 season, Jill Meyers, the coach of the University of Pittsburgh Women's Softball team turned to sports physician Freddie Fu for help. The celebrated athletic trainer discovered a troublesome condition existing in a majority of players. Fu diagnosed 19 out of the 24 women with a unique disorder known in the sports-medicine field as “ball phobia.”

Lady Panthers Pitcher Amy Greiner described the condition to Fu. “I don't know what happened to me. I don't even feel comfortable holding [a ball] in my hand anymore. I used to love the feel of it in my palm, but now, it frightens me.”

Coach Meyers first realized there was a problem when the team had an exhibition game against the Men’s Baseball Team. “The guys’ team wanted us to play with their balls. I couldn’t get over how small they were.”

“They just didn’t feel right. They didn’t feel as natural as the softer, fuller, rounder, girls equipment,” Greiner added.

That was just the beginning of the phobia. First Baseman Kate Laslow explains her fear started after she witnessed balls descending on her numerous times. “After watching them drop, I just became frightened about what would happen next. I couldn't bear to have anything to do with them.”

Coach Meyers said that Laslow has also mentioned several instances of balls getting out of hand around her. “They’ve hit her hard on her ass when she wasn't paying attention, and even smacked her in the face.”

Coach has her own philosophy that her girls’ problems may stem from lack of experience. “I think they just aren’t really used to what techniques to use or have had anyone teach them how to properly handle balls. I feel that if they just keep trying and keep working those balls, their fears will subside.”

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