''I am very fortunate to get to experience softball in both Greece and America''
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Alexis Bazos and I am an outfielder on the Greek National team. I am 20 years old and I grew up in New York (USA). I have been playing softball since I was about ten years old. I currently attend the University of Notre Dame, where I study Data Analytics and play softball. Last summer was my first year playing with Greece at the European Championship.
What made you want to play softball?
I have loved softball for as long as I can remember. I initially played baseball, as my father had played baseball and taught me how to catch and throw. I loved the challenge of the sport and I knew that I wanted to play for as long as possible.
Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
I am very fortunate to get to experience softball in both Greece and America. In America, softball is growing in popularity. Most young girls play softball at some point in their childhood. A percentage of these girls go on to play softball for a university. There are many different club teams that prepare high school aged girls for the collegiate level. These club teams practice every day and travel the country in pursuit of top competition. At the collegiate level, softball is played at a very high level. Every player is fully committed to their performance on the field, and it is a great challenge to compete day in and day out throughout the collegiate 60 game season.
Was it difficult to get into the national team and what is the process?
Greece started by identifying a large pool of players. From there, the staff watched every girl and spoke with their coaches in an effort to track their development. Once the team was formed, we all flew to Italy to practice with one another.
How often do you practice with your national team and what do the practices look like?
Because I am overseas, I do not get to practice with Greece until the summer time. I spend the year working out and practicing with Notre Dame and then I join the Greek team in July. Last summer I practiced with the team in Athens before our training camp in Italy. Training camp was full of 8 hour practice days, where we worked on every element of the game. Because our time together is limited, we make the most of every opportunity we have to practice with one another. At night we participated in team bonding activities. By the time the European Championship tournament arrived, we were ready to step on the field as one cohesive unit.
What's your best experience so far with the national team?
The entire experience of competing in the European Championships last summer is one of my best memories. From training camp to the final game we played, we had an amazing time representing our country at the international level. The pure passion every player has for this sport was evident from field to field. We were in a very competitive pool, so it was great getting to play against top European competition right from the start.
Is it hard for your National team to participate in European tournaments?
It is certainly a challenge for us to compete in the European tournaments. Because we are living in different parts of the world and are in different stages of our lives, our time tables do not always align with the tournament dates. Many of us are in school for the fall tournaments. We do our best to stay connected throughout the year, but getting full participation in all tournaments will always be a challenge. Funding our program is another challenge we face. We are all doing our best to find sponsors, but we have been on our own for the most part.
What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
Someone once told me, “work hard and this game will repay you in ways you will never imagine.” This advice has proven to be incredibly accurate. For the past ten years I have devoted almost all of time and energy to softball, and in return it has blessed with the greatest people, places, and opportunities. At times, it is difficult to stay positive in this sport of failure. I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with amazing people who help me get through the more challenging times.
Do you think there is something we could do to make softball more popular in Europe?
I was amazed to see the excitement and high level of play at the European Championships. As true with any sport, the more young players you can engage, the more popular the sport will become. It would be awesome to see more youth club teams compete in Europe. In America, every town has a recreational team. There is no question the sport would grow in popularity if there were more opportunities for the girls at all levels.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
There are many keys to a successful team. On the field, everyone has to take care of business at their respective positions. Not everyone has to be great at everything, but you want to highlight every player’s assets in whatever role they are playing. Off the field, every player has to respect one another. Teammates need to trust that everyone is acting in the best interest of the collective group, at all times.
- Romy Marinus -