Back on Oct. 29 at Ruth Ryan Field, the Alvin Community College Lady Dolphins played a softball exhibition with Ukraine.
“What we didn’t know was that this was the first time that Ukraine had allowed its national softball team to play in the United States,” Alvin Community College second-year head coach Jerry Torres-Farmer said. “When I had talked to the head guy, he asked if we wouldn’t mind playing them in an exhibition during the fall. It was really nice, and the kids were able to exchange gifts with them, but more so it was just a great experience. To me international play is amazing because other than the game of softball, these players have nothing in common. There is the language barrier, the culture, but it was nice for them to have a nice friendly game, competitive yet friendly game.”
The Ukraine team played local high schools, colleges and select squads during its tour of the Houston area.
“Many of our players didn’t know where Ukraine was at, and most of them kept calling it Russia,” Torres-Farmer said. “But it is a different country from Russia, and once our players started looking into it, they started to see the political side of what has happened with them.”
During its visit to Alvin, the Ukraine National team played Alvin and also Texas Southern in a couple of exhibitions at Ruth Ryan Field.
Noskova Galya works as an attorney in Ukraine and plays first base for the national team. She was instrumental in helping the team get this opportunity.
“Sports brings countries together at times, especially when countries are not getting along, but once the game started, it was all about softball and nothing else,” Torres-Farmer said.
There was quite a difference between each country’s game on the field, Torres-Farmer.
“The competition level in the U.S. is superior to Ukraine, but they did good against us,” she said. “To me the difference was their teachings of the game.
“It isn’t that they don’t practice enough, it’s that they are just 20 years behind then what we are.
“They don’t really have a softball field to practice on; they will practice whereever they can, whether at soccer fields or roads that are not being used. They have to do whatever it takes to practice and play. As for the teachings, our kids were just more advanced and not necessarily better than what they were.”
Though the players on the teams spoke different languages, the Lady Dolphins made the communication work after their exhibition.
“With today’s technology, it was really needed to this get together,” Farmer-Torres said. “These kids had their phones out and were translating with each other like a normal conversation. All of this happened after our exhibition. We ate hot dogs and hamburgers, and the players were even joking with each other as well. At one point they started singing together.”
The Lady Dolphins will open their 2020 season the last week of January.