''One of them is the new team my family and I founded, the Panthers!''
Please introduce yourself.
Hello! My Name is Kimberly Zehnder. I’m 21 years old and I’m from Switzerland. I started off playing Baseball when I was nine and switched fully to softball at the age of 16-17. I got to play with the U15 and U18 Baseball National Team when I was younger and got into the softball National Team when I was 17. I play with the newly founded Softball team in my town called the Wittenbach Panthers. Since we only have one softball league, we’ll be playing in the National League A.
What made you want to play softball?
Since my mom is American, I knew a lot about US-Sports. I also started playing baseball because she coached the team in our village. Once I was old enough, the nearest Softball team contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come and practice with them. To be honest I didn’t like it in the beginning. It was different to suddenly play with just girls instead of boys. I slowly but surely fell in love with the sport after every game I continued to play. The bond you get with your teammates is something you can’t describe.
Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
As many other European countries can agree on, softball is rarely known in my country. I normally just say I play something similar to baseball, we have some different rules, a smaller field, a bigger ball… As I mentioned before, we only have one league. This year there are seven teams competing in our league. One of them is the new team my family and I founded, the Panthers! I’m excited to see how we’ll do. Sadly we don’t have a youth league yet. It’s one of our big goals to develop one in the coming years.
Was it difficult to get into the national team and what was the process?
We did have tryouts for the U22 this year. But since we don’t have that many young players, almost everyone got into the team. It will be different for the senior team selection next year.
How often do you practice with your national team and what do the practices look like?
This year will be Switzerland's first U22 European Championship participation. Two of our Senior National Team players took over this program and put in a lot of time and effort to help us grow. During the winter we had practices once a month. We went to a weekend tournament in Austria, the Finkstonball in Attnang-Puchheim. Now that our season started, we’ll play games against the club teams and also have a few practices before the EC. We are training individually to get faster, stronger and mentally prepared for our European Championship in Trnava, Slovakia.
What's your best experience so far with the national team?
It probably has to be the World Cup 2016 in Surrey, Canada. It was amazing to travel so far to play softball. To see all of the best teams in the world compete against each other and to be a part of it, is something I will never forget.
What is your goal for the 2018 season?
Our goal, for the Wittenbach Panthers, is to grow as a team. Most of our players are new and they’ll have lots of games to learn about the rules. Our U22 National Team has similar goals also. We have a lot of new players that don’t have international experience and we also haven’t played together that much. That’s why all of the practice games we’re going to play this year will be the perfect opportunity to get to know each other on and off the field.
What's your ultimate softball dream?
I’ve always wanted to play Softball outside of Switzerland. I got the opportunity last year, to play with the Tex Town Tigers from Enschede, the Netherlands.
What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
I can’t remember who told me this, but a quote I try to life by is: It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday. Be the game changer, you don’t have to be the best player to change the way a game goes. It’s a good play, a strike out, cheering for the team, being a good teammate, a hit, a stolen base, it can be anything to change the atmosphere of a game.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
A successful team isn’t always the winning team. For me a successful team, is a team that has spirit, a team that knows each other and works together to achieve a goal.
- Romy Marinus -