''I think that is why softball in the Netherlands is successful.''
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Ismay Poot, I am a twenty-year-old outfielder from the Netherlands. Back at home, I play for Twins Oosterhout. In the US I play for Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee, Florida, a division 1 Junior College. I’ve played softball since I was six years old and I started out playing for the club Almere. I have been playing in the second highest league of the Netherlands, the Silver League, for about four years now. Twins Oosterhout promoted to the Golden League, the highest league, after the season finals of this year, so I am excited what this next season will bring me. I play for the Dutch national youth team, which we call Talent Team Holland (TTH). I started to play for TTH in 2015/2016 in the Golden League. Before that, I practiced and participated with the youth teams since 2013. I play outfield, but I can also play third base and I can catch. The past few years I have really focused on the outfield, which is my primary position.
What made you want to play softball?
I started playing softball because my mom played as well. So I have always been at the field back home. Once I started to try it out, I never left. Next to school, softball has really become my priority since I was twelve years old.
Can you tell me something about softball in your home country?
I think softball in the Netherlands is very competitive and fun. The competition has always been well rounded and evenly matched and most teams try to reach the highest level of outcome. I also feel like the sport is well thought out in the Netherlands. When I try to explain how our competition and system works in the US, they don’t really understand how we don’t play for a school. I like that softball and school is separated and that it gives you the freedom to go and play with any club you desire. Playing softball back home is to play for fun. Since you can’t make a living based off of playing softball, all you can do is to play it because you have a passion for the sport. I think that is why softball in the Netherlands, and Europe, is successful.
Was it hard to get into your college softball team and what was the process?
The first step in trying to get to play collegian sports is hard work and dedication. It took a while for me to make the decision to go to the US since I really enjoyed playing softball in the Netherlands. Once I realised it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I did not hesitate to act immediately. With help of the company Overboarder, I posted a YouTube video of my skills. Once my information was out there, I got an email from coach Patti Townsend from Tallahassee Community College. She explained to me how she worked, what the team and school look like, and what she expected from me. It felt very welcoming and almost too good to be true. I had never met the team before I committed to TCC, but once being there, everyone was very helpful and welcoming. There was no try-out or other scouting processes for me, but most people come to visit a school to check it out or for the coaches to see what they have to bring to the team. I committed to TCC based on my video and what potential coach Patti Townsend saw in me, and how she could shape me as a collegian player.
Are you enjoying your college? Is there anything that you really miss about Holland?
I am really enjoying college and having my own place, but living in the Netherlands is so much easier. Maybe it is because back at home everything is around the corner and since I don’t have a car here, it is harder to get around. It might sound weird, but I am not homesick at all. It is just the simple little things that I could do back home that make me miss home the most. Everyone here is so kind and helpful and nobody hesitates to help me out, so that really helps.
What are the biggest differences between European and American softball?
When you live and play in the US, most of the time it is about getting recruited or getting a scholarship to pay for your school. This makes softball more about money than it is playing for fun. In Europe you can’t really get money for playing, so all you can do is play to play. It feels more free to play in Europe, than keeping a reputation for a school in the US. Though, I really like the mentality of the American coaches. Most of the coaches have played collegian sports which makes them understand what we go through. It also makes them kind of harsh in a sense, since they like to see us push ourselves and other teammates. I don’t say this isn’t in Europe, but since softball in America is so big, you really have to fight for your spot.
How did you like the European Championship this year and are you satisfied with the outcome?
The U22 Women’s European Championship in Trnava, Slovakia was great! We became second in the final, which sucked at that moment, but realising that this is my first medal, silver is pretty exciting too. Of course, it was not the outcome we hoped for, but evaluating this tournament, we can be satisfied and proud of our accomplishments!
What's your best experience so far with the national team?
Every tournament I went to with the national youth team has been unforgettable and I am grateful that I can represent my country in playing the sport that I love. The U19 Women’s World Championship in Clearwater, Florida, was my first big tournament with the Dutch national youth team, so that was very special. This summer I participated with the U22 Women’s European Championship in Trnava, Slovakia which was so much fun, and we managed to earn a spot in the finale and get a silver medal. Playing for the national team is mostly so much fun because we have a great group. Since the highest levels of softball aren’t that big, it becomes a small world. Everyone has known each other since a long time.
What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
The best advice I have ever gotten is “destroy excuses”. A coach told me this once and it always reminds me that whatever you go through, you have to keep pushing yourself to become better. It is so easy to come up with something to avoid the challenging parts of life, but to keep striving by limiting anything that holds you back is what really helps you grow.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
The first thing I think is key to a successful team is pride. You have to have pride for the club, school, or country you play for. Having passion and fun is really important. Teamwork is also very important to any team sport, but especially in softball. On the field it just needs to click to work efficiently. The chemistry has to be right to function as a team.
- Romy Marinus -