Clinic spurs girls softball comeback

At a camp in 2013, Sam Robinson practiced her swing in front of local Sharks players Tad Gold (left) and Jack Roberts. — Ralph Stewart

Softball is booming on Martha’s Vineyard and much of the credit belongs to Tim Goodman and Laurie Turney who will host the “Vineyard Dynamite Softball Clinic,” a free, three-day clinic for girls aged 7 to 17 as part of an ongoing effort to boost the Island program.

MV softball nearly collapsed due to a lack of players and enthusiasm but experienced a tremendous comeback this spring.

“We’re just replicating the clinic we did last summer because it was such a success,” Mr. Goodman said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “The only person who isn’t returning is Ken Eriksen, the coach at the University of South Florida and the United States national team, who was summering here last time and wanted to help. We had 20-25 girls last year and we’re expecting and hoping for even more this year.”

The clinic runs from 5:30 to 8 pm, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, July 28–30, at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School softball field. Girls can pre-register by sending their name and age to The first 15 girls to register and attend all three nights receive a free trip to Fenway Park on August 17, where the Red Sox will face off against the Houston Astros.

“We did the same thing last year,” Mr. Goodman said. “We had girls from 7 to 17, with the coaches, 25 people going to that game together. It was great to see the girls bond and realize that they’re the leaders of this program.”

Mr. Goodman and Ms. Turney, both of Vineyard Haven, are aided by Samantha Burns, also of Vineyard Haven, as well as several Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Varsity softball players and Sharks baseball players.

In 2013, The Times reported that only 11 girls turned out for high school varsity play that spring, just two more than the minimum to field a team. The JV team, with only 10 girls, often had to be supplemented with players from opposing teams. Varsity coach Donald Herman considered resigning and the program was on the verge of disappearing.

Mr. Goodman, whose daughter Micheli Lynn played four years at MVRHS and just completed her first year playing softball at Roger Williams College, and Ms. Turney, who played softball for MVRHS (class of ‘88) and whose daughter, rising junior Emily Turney, made the all-Eastern Athletic Conference team as a freshman at MVRHS, were not going to let that happen.

This spring, 35 girls turned out for varsity and Babe Ruth registrations shot up. Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools superintendent James Weiss told Mr. Goodman that if the trend continues girls softball could return to the elementary schools.

“I remember Coach Herman called me,” said Mr. Goodman. “He was so excited, he told me, ‘Tim, you won’t believe how many girls showed up to play ball.’”