There was no labor stoppage preventing the Opening Ceremonies from commencing for Santa Clara PAL softball. Unlike with Major League Baseball’s lockout, coaches and police officers for Santa Clara PAL (Police Activities League) kicked things off on time this season. And for the first time, they opened the season with an exciting new twist.
After their traditional Opening Ceremonies, the girls got to watch their coaches in the first ever Santa Clara PAL Coaches vs. Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) softball game.
“The game was my kind of child,” chuckled Tom Ostrander, Chief Player Agent for PAL softball. “I play on an adult slow pitch team in the city rec league and we play against the police department team every year. Last fall during one of our games I was thinking about what we could do for this season. I went up to the chief and was like, ‘Hey, what would you think about doing a coaches vs police department game on opening night?’ and he was instantly like, ‘Let’s do it.’”
The game may have been one-sided in favor of the police squad, but both sides put on a show for the girls. Coaches who hadn’t played themselves in quite a long time received a taste of their own medicine from their players who shouted out coaching instructions from the stands.
Meanwhile, the police squad featured multiple officers who played Division I college softball, including officer Geenamarie Bonilla, who played at Santa Clara University from 2014-2017. The former Broncos’ star has helped run clinics for PAL softball players in the past and always cherishes the opportunity to be a role model for the next generation of softball players.
“It’s awesome. There is no better way to connect with the community than through something you love. I have a passion for softball and police work and when those two worlds meet it’s kind of like my best day, my dream come true,” noted the former Broncos infielder. “I did some clinics with the girls in the past, so I know a few of them and some of the coaches personally. So, it’s cool to have a little bit of a competitive, fun-natured game and let the girls see their coaches playing and having fun.
“Also, to see police officers in a more normal fun way, instead of always seeing us in uniform,” continued Bonilla. “I think that’s good for the community as a whole; to show that we are human, that we like the same activities that they do and that we’re relatable.”
Having inspiring women role models out there for the girls wasn’t lost on coach Rocky Silva, who has coached both his daughters in PAL the past few seasons.
“It shows these girls that women can be police officers, they can be K-9 officers, they can be in roles of leadership, in the city council and the mayor,” chimed Silva. “There are a lot more opportunities out there that these girls may not know exist without being exposed to it through PAL.”