Please introduce yourself.
My name is Isa Smit and I'm 17 years old. At the age of 9, I started playing at Alcmaria Victix in Alkmaar. When they downgraded a leauge, I transferred to Onze Gazelle in Haarlem. They play Silver League, which is second highest league. I play second base, which has actually been my position since the beginning of my softball career. Last year the KNBSB (the Dutch association) started to form a U16 and U19 national team for young talents. I successfully participated at the try outs and got selected to play the World Championship U19 in Clearwater, Florida in 2017. I hope there will be many more years to come where I can play for the national team.

What made you want to play softball?
My mother used to play softball and one day asked if I would like to play it too. Already at my first practice I fell in  love with the game.

Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
Unfortunately softball is not really a well known sport in the Netherlands, that's why the softball community is pretty small. We have different leagues to play in. You can start at a young age with T-Ball, then we have the pupils, aspirants and juniors. When you get to an older age, you can play in the 'women' leagues. They go from the fourth until the first league, following the Silver and Golden League. All those leagues are based on age.

In the Netherlands there is a special program called the 'CTO'. Can you explain what it is and what you're doing there?
For softball this is the first year ever that we can participate in this. The CTO stands for Center of Top Sport and Education. This means we are practicing nine times a week (around 21 hours), go to school and live on our own in Amsterdam. We have special (shorter) school hours so we can practice full-time to reach our goals. We practice with the newest techniques and very goal orientated. In addition we receive mental training from Brain Cain, we do alternative sports and team building exercises to get the best out of our selfs. Everything is at bike distance so no time is lost travelling and so our program is very structured. We also have a physiotherapist at the training complex where we can go when we want.

Is it hard to combine the CTO program with school?
Yes it's very hard. We’re not getting school the way we are used to, it’s now mainly self-study and finding your own best way of studying. Some subjects have schedules to help you, but not all. As we can hardly finish homework within school hours, it’s also very hard to make your home work around practicing hours. I'm in high school and have nine hours of school every week. Outside those hours I have some study hours for homework and make tests.

Is it hard for your National team to participate in European tournaments?
In the past years softball did not receive a lot of money but that's different now. Because we performed so well we are getting more funds from the NOC*NSF (Dutch sports organization with the aim to promote sport in the Netherlands) and the KNBSB. This means we can play more tournaments.

What's your best experience so far with the national team?
I only played one season with U19 so far, but it was a great one. This because we played the World Championship in Florida. It was an amazing experience which I will never forget.

What is your goal for the 2018 season?
The most important thing for me is to gain more selfconfidence. Sometimes my lack of confidence on the field causes me to make unnecessary mistakes. Of course I would like to win the European Championship with the U19 team and end in the top 6 with my club team.

Who's your role model and why?
My role model is Chantal Versluis. To be honest I don't really have a specific reason for that. She is a good infielder and has a fun character. She has a lot of experience, therefore I can learn a lot from her.

What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall.
You can make mistakes but you need to learn from them.

I really enjoyed doing this interview. I'm enjoying every moment of my life right now. It’s an unique opportunity I grab with both hands. I hope you all have a better view of how softball is in the Netherlands and how the CTO works. 
Thanks :)

- Romy Marinus -