Humber Softball captured the first national medal in the program’s history, but for the players and the coaching staff, the achievement was far more than just a medal.
The Hawks departed to British Columbia, on Oct. 6, to kick off their journey and battle to take the first national medal in the history of Humber Softball.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, at Centennial Park in the small city of Langford, history was written in the diamond number one. The Hawks defeated the UBC Okanagan Heat and secured the bronze.
However, the biggest achievement for the players and coaching staff transcended the pitch; it extended to everyone who had been once part of this close family.
For senior player Alexis Ferreira, the win did not rest only on the shoulders of the current players.
Ferreira says the players had a lot of other people driving them – the former players, the people who started and helped push the Humber program to where it is today and for everybody back home, the win was for everyone.
“We won, but the people who were here before us can look and see everything that they put into the program is just as important as what we have been putting in now, because we would not be here without them. This is not just an us win, it is an everybody win,” Ferreira said.
The achievement of a national medal is clearly seen among the players as a long-term process.
“Surreal.” This was the word used by graduating player Hannah Koziolek to describe the emotion that overwhelmed her as the final out was recorded.
Koziolek notes how leaving the program in a better state than they initially found it is often discussed among players and coaching staff.
“In the five years me and my other seniors have been here, we have seen a lot of change and a lot of culture shift. This was the cherry on top to prove that we did do something positive to change the program and put us on a good trajectory,” Koziolek said.
For both Ferreira and Koziolek, setting a good example is key as fifth-year players. They understand the important role they play, especially for the young players coming in, and both emphasize how this group is more than a team, but a family.
Coach Duaine Bowles and the coaching staff are one of the main reasons why this sense of family is so alive between the players. Often referring to the players as “his girls,” Bowles does not only want to build great players on the pitch but elite women who will leave a lasting impact on the future generations of softball players.
“We tell the girls all the time. They are not just playing for themselves, they are playing for a little girl that potentially wants to play at this level four or five years from now. Every time trying to make sure that when they leave this place, they are going to make a positive impact on the rest of the world. That’s my role,” Bowles said.
In his seventh year ahead of Humber Softball, the coach said it was difficult to contain his emotions as his players rushed onto the field to celebrate their victory.
“Watching them through my eyes, being able to see them jump and celebrate was everything for me. This isn’t about me, this is about them,” Bowles said.
Bowles emphasized the importance of the sense of family. He acknowledges that life is not always sunshine and rainbows, even families have disagreements sometimes. But, when you know these are coming from a place of love and trust, they become easier to handle.
“We have been really trying to make sure that the girls can trust each other and we are hoping they can trust us. And the only way you can trust is when there’s a bit of love there.”
Koziolek believes their trust in each other is what brought them so much success.
Ferreira said the assistance from the coach means everything to her. She believes that she would not have achieved what she did without his support.
“I can thank him endlessly and he will tell me he has nothing to do with it because it’s all me. But I think the acknowledgement of, you helped me become who I am, needs to be made and I will be definitely telling him that after provincials,” Ferreira said.
“That’s his biggest thing, trying to push people past what they think they are capable of doing,” Koziolek said.
While the national accomplishment holds significant importance for the program, both the players and coaching staff know that the job is far from finished.
The OCAA provincial championship is still ahead, and the team is locked in to end the season bringing another medal home.
For the two graduating players, Ferreira and Koziolek, their varsity years might be coming to an end, but they say once you have been a Humber Hawk, you will always be part of the family.
“Even though I’m leaving, I’m not really leaving. I trust in the team, I trust in the coaching staff, I trust in everyone who’s going to come after me and play for the team. Regardless, a win without me is a win for me anyway. The best way you can say is, you are a family,” Ferreira said.