The 2022 Little League Softball® World Series (LLSWS) was filled with excitement thanks to the talented play of 12 participating teams in the event’s second year in Greenville. However, it was the players who were cheering during the final days of action, recognizing a group of 16 volunteers who made history in the 48-year history of the series: an All-Female Grounds Crew.
“I was like, ‘wait a minute, we’re supposed to be cheering you on,’” said Sun Roesslein, who helped organize the women volunteers for the LLSWS from among the Sports Field Management Association. “This is one of the first times anything like this has ever happened in the sports world and to get to be a part of it is, I can’t even find the words. It’s indescribable.”
Ms. Roesselin helped put it together with Chris Ball, a member of the LLSWS Committee who organizes the ground crew, after approaching him about it in January. Mr. Ball played Little League at Stallings Stadium himself, but the women groundskeepers are a new feature to the LLSWS site, all except for one.
The lone exception being Cheryl Miller, who was the only woman on the grounds crew for the 2021 Softball World Series. Ms. Miller has worked for Little League taking care of the Southeast region facilities in Warner Robins, Georgia, for the last decade. Before that, she headed up the grounds crew in South Williamsport, where she grew up, for the Little League Baseball® World Series.
“Nobody in this crew ever thought in their lifetime they would see only females out there taking care of a field,” Ms. Miller said. “It hits them hard, and they get emotional. We’re all kind of emotionally wrapped up in this. This is the big thing for us, and we all know it’s very special, and we just want to keep it going and continue it. It’s an honor to be out here with all these women, and it’s an honor to be able to do this for these girls.”
Ms. Roesselin said groundskeeping is a rewarding career but one that most don’t notice because they show up and the work of preparing the field is already done. Because of that, there was extra motivation to bring this historic idea, specifically to the LLSWS.
“We want to show these girls that you can do anything,” Miller said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you come out here and do these jobs, and maybe when your softball career ends, you can still say involved. Because a lot of these girls did play softball, and this is their way of staying involved and connected to the sport.”
The group consists of a wide range of experience, from one high school senior to women who have worked in the industry for decades. They also come from all over the country, from locals within driving distance to some from western states like Colorado, Nevada, or Arizona.
Ms. Miller and Ms. Roesselin both said they hope this gives exposure to their industry and grows the number of women working in it. That, and they hope to come back and do it again next year.
“This is just the beginning for us,” Miller said.