Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Floyd helps with clinic in Mexico
By Robb Hemmelgarn
Hanna Floyd had never vacationed in Mexico, so when her plane landed on the runway outside of Cancun in the middle of June, the Wright State softball player didn't know what to expect.
It wasn't the language barrier or cultural variations that first captured her attention though.
"The first impression was 'Man, it is HOT!' " said Floyd, who spent a week south of the border with her former summer team, the Miami Valley Express, in an event sponsored by the Miami Valley Foundation. "Last December, I was asked if I wanted to go to Mexico with the Express and conduct a softball clinic for local girls and women who didn't have much of an opportunity to be around the sport."
Without hesitation, Floyd accepted the opportunity and along with her parents, Chris and Sharon, and her former teammates from the Express, she headed south. After maneuvering their way through Customs and dodging countless locals attempting to sell Mexican timeshares, Floyd and the Express boarded the transit bus which took them to the resort, which she describes as a little slice of paradise.
"It was absolutely beautiful there," explained the former Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year from Minster. "The pools were huge. You could swim up to the beach and 20 feet away was the ocean. The workers there were also so nice. They positively loved their jobs and did their best to make sure we were all happy."
Following a couple of days of blending team-bonding exercises with relaxation, the girls jumped back on the bus and headed toward the softball complex.
"The first day we took a pretty populated way to the field, so it was full of tourist attractions and paved roads," said Floyd. "The second day was a little different though. We took back roads and went through the parts of the country where most of the people live day-to-day. There were some very rough conditions. At one point, there was a building on the side of the road that we figured out was the police department. A wall surrounded the building and on the top of the wall were shards of glass to prevent people from getting out. There were also mounted machine guns around the top, which I guess is for if someone escaping managed to get past the glass."
The girls were greeted by several local girls and women at the stadium, but they were all forced to wait until the boys' team was finished playing.
"We were standing around the outside of the field and it was getting past the time we were supposed to start," commented Chris Floyd, who played minor league baseball in the late 1980s in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. "The young boys were playing and some of the guys in the stands made it very clear that we were to get off of the field until they were finished. It didn't take long to figure out that we didn't want to argue with them about it."
Once the drills and activities began, the younger Floyd enjoyed several hours of teaching the basics - fielding, catching and hitting - to girls who ranged in age from around 10 through their late 20s.
"There was a mother and daughter out there and they were only 12 years apart, so that was very interesting, but it was really neat because everyone was so eager to learn the game," she said. "Many of the older girls were raising families of their own and they took the time away from that to come out and play. It was an incredible experience watching them grasp the concept of the game."
Festivities on the second day wrapped up with a scrimmage between the Mexican and the United States softball players, who were decked out in blue uniforms donned with the American and Mexican Flags on the front.
"We definitely had no problem with them in the scrimmage, but they managed to get a couple of hits and get some girls on base. There was one instance where a girl stole second. I was at shortstop and clearly tagged her out in time, but the umpire called her safe," said Floyd. "We all sort of laughed because we definitely weren't going to question them on their turf."
As nightfall approached, the Express and their new friends shared a homemade meal of tacos and burritos while swapping stories and giggling about their various experiences.
"It was a lot of fun to hang out and talk with them on that second night," said Floyd. "When I returned to the United States and dealt with the frustrations of not having my phone charged, or something else really trivial; I think back to some of those girls and realize how many of them didn't even know when or where their next meal would come from. It definitely puts a lot of things into perspective, but it was an experience that if I ever had the opportunity to do again I would in a heartbeat."