''Basically my softball career started as a batgirl''
Please introduce yourself.
Hey, my name is Maxine Dunford. I'm 18 years old and I'm from Paderborn, Germany. I started playing softball when I was 10 for the Paderborn Untouchables. Since a few years I'm playing for the Wesseling Vermins. I decided to change clubs because I wanted to play on a higher level. At the moment I'm playing in three different leagues: the Verbandsliga, the U19 team and the Bundesliga. It takes me much effort because Wesseling is around three hours away by train from where I live. This means I'm just able to go to the team practice on friday and stay there the whole weekend. During the week I'm practicing with my old team or on my own. I'm a member of the German national team since 2013. I started with the position outfield but since 2014 I'm also a catcher.
What made you want to play softball?
Before I started with softball, I played baseball. My brothers also played baseball so I could often be found on the field, watching their games. We also used to practice in our garden, I found it really fun so I decided to start too when I was five. While I was playing baseball, I was also a batgirl for the Untouchables softball team. So basically my softball career started as a batgirl.
Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
In Germany softball is not really popular, even though we have many clubs. Most of the people here only know baseball. When you tell people that you play softball, the first thing they ask is 'is the ball soft?'. In Germany we have different levels. We have the Landesliga which is the lowest league. Then we have the Verbandsliga which is the second highest league. The highest league in Germany is the Bundesliga. There are also some U16 and U19 competitions. We have two different Bundesliga competitions, 'Nord' and 'Süd'. We have this because Germany is a really big country. The Bundesliga teams play for the German championship title with the best of five rule. The winner will play at the Women's Premiere Cup. The team that loses the best of five final, has the chance to play at the 'Deutschlandpokal'. You play one game here. The winner of this game participates at the Women's Cup Winners Cup.
How often do you practice with your national team and what do the practices look like?
We practice one weekend each month. At saturday we start at 11:00 and finish at 19:00. We focus on hitting, bunting, fielding, pitching, catching and athletics. When we are done with the practice we get dinner and go for a shower. When everyone's done, we meet in a room where we talk about what we need to change or what we could do better. On sunday we start our second and last practice for the weekend at 10:00 until 14:00. When we are done on sunday we all get lunch. After that our coaches do a speech about how the weekend was.
Is there anything extra your country is doing for the Olympic Games in 2020?
Yes, since we know that softball will be in the Olympics again, we started with a special program. In this program we most of the time focus on trying to get faster and better, it doesn't matter in which category. Since we can't meet each other often, every member of the team is supposed to do a training schedule on their own.
What's the best advice someone ever gave you?
The best advice someone ever gave me is: 'it's not about how often you fall. It's about how many times you get back up'. I think this advice is good for both on- and off the field.
Who's your role model and why?
My role model comes from the Netherlands, her name is Dinet Oosting. She is my role model because I like how she plays, it's really fun to watch her play and she's a catcher too. When she is on the field, it seems like she has everything under control. She is really an inspirition for me.
How difficult was it to make it to the national selection and what was the process?
I think it's pretty hard to make it to the team, you really need to fight for your spot. At the beginning we start the practices with around 26 girls. After two or three practices girls get cut out. In the end the coaches take along the girls they see the most potention in.
What's your best experience with the national team so far?
I think my best experience with the national team was the European Championship U19 in Barcelona, in 2016. It was a great experience where we achieved the fourth place.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
I think the key to a successful team is that you build each other up and that you motivate, inspire and just push each other.
- Romy Marinus -