''It was a big commitment, but if you love softball it is worth it''
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Tess Griswold and I’m a catcher for Ireland. I’m about to be a junior at Furman University (USA) where I study Health Science, in hopes to become a Physician Assistant. I started playing for Ireland last summer in the Seniors tournament in Milan, Italy. Playing for Ireland has been such an amazing and humbling experience that I’m so proud of.
What made you want to play softball?
I grew up playing t-ball when I was about six, to be like my brother. I fell in love with the game and started playing travel softball around eight years old, all the way up until college. My dad was really the first person to show me how to play softball, and even today is the person who I hit with on a daily basis when I’m home. He is a huge part of how I fell in love with the sport and I’ll forever be grateful to him for that.
Can you tell me something about softball in America?
The biggest difference I’ve noticed from America to Europe is the difference in the popularity and amount of fields. I generally hit with my dad every day or every other day, since it is something we love to do together. Whenever we go out to hit, we have the choice of three fields within a 15-minute drive to go to. In a lot of the countries I’ve seen, they either don't have these options, or if they do the fields have grass infields. I really hope that as softball grows in popularity across Europe, these teams get the number of fields they deserve to inspire even younger players to join softball. Softball seems to be more popular in America than Europe so there is a surplus of fields and stores with softball gear. I really hope softball keeps growing in Europe because there are always so many young girls that come to the fields to watch the games. I think more facilities would really inspire more people to fall in love with the game like we did.
Was it hard to get into the college softball team and what was the process?
Becoming a Divison 1 player takes a lot of hard work. I was committed to my University for two years before I actually went there. Most big softball players in America are on travel softball teams. While playing at well- known showcases and tournaments, college coaches come to watch the games and scout out players. I practiced with my travel team for about four days a week for years, while also playing on my high school team. Also, I traveled all across America to these highly competitive tournaments. It was a big commitment, but if you love softball it is worth it. I am so grateful to play for Furman University and to have them as my family.
How often do you practice with the Irish national team and what do the practices look like?
Due to the fact I play in college in America, I am not able to travel to Ireland to practice often. I practice year round at my school about six days a week for 3-4 hours a day. We have team weightlifting and conditioning frequently also. Although I do not practice with them on a regular basis, I have never met people as open and friendly as the Irish. It is so easy to pick up where we left off and have great team chemistry.
How did you like the European Championship(s) this year and are you satisfied with the outcome?
A bronze medal was a great outcome! The Irish softball team has been a team that I think a lot of other countries have taken for granted for a long time. I don’t think people were expecting such growth in the sport the last couple years. As much as I am so proud of our bronze medal (and of the U19 team for earning an amazing silver medal) I don’t think we will slow down until we earn a gold. I love going to the European Championships and playing for this amazing country. One amazing thing about the European Championship is that even in our last medal game, I think we had four other countries there cheering us on. The healthy competition in these tournaments causes teams to keep getting better and raise the bar, but also to support each other no matter where we are from. Overall, my answer is that I’m extremely happy with the medal our team worked so hard for, but I won’t be satisfied until we are number one! I can’t wait till next year.
What's your best experience so far with the national team?
Honestly, being able to play for Ireland is an amazing experience within itself that I am so grateful for. However, if I had to choose one, the best experience has been beating Great Britain for the Bronze medal. Two days before that game we had lost to them in extra innings, and the program had lost to them multiple games in a row. The energy and chemistry we had going into the game was the best I’ve ever seen an Irish team have. I also hadn’t won a medal before so winning against a team we had lost to made it an even better experience. It was the best feeling that we weren’t just winning the medal for ourselves, but for a whole country that we are all so proud of.
Who's your role model and why?
My parents are my biggest role models. They are two of the most amazing people I’ve met who have taught me how to love, be compassionate, and many more things. I am so grateful to have them in my life and to be able to share these experiences of traveling with them. No matter if it is softball, school, my faith, or anything, I know they always lead me in the right direction and push me to be a better person.
Do you think there is something we could do to make softball more popular in Europe?
I think the Olympics are what will initially open popularity and interest to softball all across the world. It's important that after that, more fields and athletic stores are developed to support people who would love to join this sport. Also, I think it would be amazing if each country supported their teams to host softball camps around their country to help teach young players or people interested. This would be inspiring for the national teams, and also help spread softball to the younger generations.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
Team chemistry is one of the most important things for a successful team. You can have the best players in each position, but if everyone is playing completely for themselves and not sacrificing for each other, you won’t come up with the wins you need to. When everyone is excited to be there and excited for whatever role they are given to benefit their team, then you will be successful.
- Romy Marinus -