Those words are written atop the lineup posted on a whiteboard in the Ridgeline dugout.
They were also echoed during an animated postgame meeting by Falcons slowpitch softball coach Alyssa Rasmussen following Ridgeline’s 12-11 home win in extra innings over Lewis and Clark on Tuesday.
The phrase was emphasized by the oversized straw hats Rasmussen and her assistant coaches wore throughout the game – even while she was coaching third base or having a discussion with an umpire.
Asked about the hats, Rasmussen replied, “Because we’re bringing big fun to slowpitch.”
Her postgame routine had all the energy of a pregame motivational speech.
“I’m just trying to (get them to) remember what the sport is all about,” she said. “So I want them to know that they did well. Good or bad, win or loss. But it’s fun. And yes, I’m a little fiery. I’ll take it.”
“We like to have fun, so that’s what we do,” Falcons junior Savannah Smith said.
On Tuesday, Ridgeline held a lead in the middle innings, was tied by LC in the seventh, then came back to win in the eighth – its third overall and second league win of the season – on a walk-off double by ninth-grader Emma Myers.
“I think that goes back to, my girls have grit,” Rasmussen said. “Whether they’ve been getting clobbered or not, you would never know it. They’re out there fighting every inning and I think today it just happened that the hits were falling when we needed them to.”
“When (Rasmussen) is enthusiastic, it really picks everyone up,” Myers said.
“It’s really exciting,” Myers said of the new team. “The coaches are fun, the girls are fun and we work really well together.”
“It was really cool when we won our first game,” Smith said. “You’re like ‘Wait, we just made history.’ So it was really cool.”
Like every other coach at Ridgeline, Rasmussen is in her first year at the helm for the softball program. Unlike others, though, it’s her first season coaching slowpitch.
“Anything new, shiny and new is fun, right?” she said. “But I think we’ve gotten past, after the first couple months, is that it’s not given to us. Just because we’re new and fresh, it’s not free, right? They’re out here working every day.”
In that regard, she’s not unlike some of her players who are in their first season of competition. Rasmussen has several experienced players, but she has some new to slowpitch and some new to the sport itself.
“It’s going well,” she said. “Learning that ‘face on the fence’ versus ‘toes on the dirt,’ it’s all the same when you’re part of a team. And so, teaching these girls that being a part of something is what it’s all about. So yeah, they’re learning, they’re teaching and then we all just come together when it works.”
“I’m so grateful to be here with all these players, these coaches and it’s awesome to have this opportunity to build something from the ground up,” junior pitcher Charley Palm said.
“We’ve made a lot of new friends and we’ve gotten really close,” Smith added.
Through it all though, Rasmussen continually expresses to her players to enjoy the experience, one she’s grateful to have gone through herself.
“This was my life for so long,” she said. “To be able to come back and do it for these girls (is important). I’ve said it a couple times, but teaching them what the sport is about and really bringing that fun back too. No matter what we do, we’ve got to have fun or it’s not worth being out there. Life’s too hard.”
As with the rest of the Ridgeline teams, Rasmussen has no seniors to lean on.
“They’re a young team, you know, no seniors out there,” she said. “We only have a couple juniors, they’re working hard to make it happen. It’s not coming easy to them, right? Nothing’s been easy. But look at the attitudes they’ve got. The grit. Hungry for everything they get.”
Rasmussen has three juniors who are becoming natural leaders for the young, inexperienced Falcons.
“There’s a few girls I’ve been like helping learn how to throw, and teaching them the mechanics and everything,” junior Samantha Mowery said. “They’ve been improving a lot since day one.”
She relishes being a leader.
“It’s really cool, especially since I’m a junior and I’ll be the first graduating class,” she said. “And so it’s really cool to play with all these younger girls and help teach them how to play and stuff.”
Palm has played softball “my whole life,” but in her third season of pitching slowpitch considers herself still “fairly new to it.”
She over the idea of trying to strike out every batter.
“I really prefer to have it hit, actually,” she said. “It’s just frustrating when you’re throwing pitch after pitch and it’s not going the way you want, so I’d rather have action happen.”
Even Myers has taken a leadership role with the less-experienced players.
“They’re picking things up pretty fast,” Myers said. “It’s fun teaching them skills that I’ve learned from when I was younger and picking them up now that I’m getting older.”
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