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Legacy and Tomorrow meet at latest SNY Play Ball Grant Ceremony

It was all about legacy and the bright future of women’s sports, on a beautiful Thursday evening at the East River Park. Thanks to the SNY Play Ball grant presented by Citi, which was presented to the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

Members of the first All-Girls softball team from Lower Eastside Girls Club gather to receive the SNY Play Ball grant presented by Citi. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

As SNY anchor Michelle Yu and  her colleagues along with representatives from Citibank were gathered to greet the inaugural team known as the ‘Avenue D Sluggers’ the 6-12 year olds in attendance it was about keeping alive a dream for little girls everywhere.

It was 40 years ago that pioneers Billie Jean King and many other paved the road for these young ladies to even have an opportunity to play ball thanks to the Title IX legislation. Since then the ladies have been thrilling the crowds with their amazing athletic abilities; as such great stars like Jennie Finch, the Williams’ Sisters and other great athletes’ who have created even more opportunities for females.

Opportunities not only in the world of sports, but also in the corporate world, as the trio of Yu, Fanis Polanco, who is the VP Branch Manager at the Downtown Citibank location and Kate Sease who is the Development Director at the Lower Eastside Girls Club all proved that you can have success off the court as well.

“I played team sports up until High School, I actually played softball. I think that playing on a team is huge for all kids, especially being outdoors and being active,” said Sease of her playing experience. “You learn some really valuable skills playing sports that you wouldn’t otherwise. You learn how to work with other people, you learn to challenge yourself and playing sports has helped me. You use the skills you learn in sports throughout your life.”

Polanco had this to say on how being an athlete made her a success in the corporate world, “It gives you the different tools that you need for success. You learn to work with others and it teaches you the importance of giving back to the community that we should be in-in the corporate world.”

Yu, who has served as an SNY anchor and motivational speaker during the Citi Field Kids program, was on hand to share her experiences with the 6-12 year olds, who are continuing in a fine tradition of trailblazers.

“It is wonderful to see that these girls are out here, it is a tribute to them. It already show me that they are young that they are trying to do better and trying to utilize the opportunities that they are being given,” Yu said. “When I was a kid I was given a similar opportunity, I didn’t play softball-but I did manage to learn how to play tennis.”

Michelle continued to say about her playing career, “I was able to play collegiately (at Manhattan College) and was able to do that from a free community tennis program with the New York City Parks Foundation. It is a sport that still lives on with me, and that is why I think it is really important for little girls to get involved with sports, because it can be something that they can have with them for a lifetime.”

Two traits that can be learned on the field are determination and mental toughness, which are vital characteristics in a world that can sometimes be filled with negativity.

“I feel that in life you are going to have a lot of uphill battles and if one person tells you that you can’t do something you need to tell them to ‘Shut the front door’ because you are capable of doing anything you put your mind too,” Yu told 1495Sports as her message for those going after their dreams. “As long as you work hard and are determined you will persevere.”

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