Today, we were all introduced to the Washington Glory, our new National Pro Fastpitch women's softball expansion team.
We were introduced to a dozen players and their just-named head coach Carie Dever-Boaz, a former Virginia assistant, who said that "only in America can you get paid, as a female, to get dirt under your fingernails and be thought of as cool."
It turns out that she knows from dirt. Her son, 12-year-old Max, is a competitive rodeo boy, who competes in roping and cutting and riding and has visions of team penning. (Don't ask.) She was carrying a copy of Pro Bull Rider.
We were also introduced to team play-by-play man Al Koken, who will broadcast the team's six games on Comcast SportsNet this season. I asked whether he has done softball play-by-play before.
"Has anybody?" he replied. "I have a chance to eventually become the Vin Scully of this. Accent on the eventually."
We met team owner Paul Wilson, who is described in the team's promotional materials as "a multi-faceted entrepreneur." True to the name, he's already seeking to sell the naming rights for the team. As in, the team would one day be called the "[Your company name here] Washington Glory." I asked whether this would sully the sport's purity, which he had earlier extolled.
"In Japan, all the teams are 'Toyota,' 'Honda,' everybody is doing it," he said. "We're not looking to bank in on the team, we want to be able to do it as a kind of outreach."
And the players were on board; "You can pay me money and I'll put that on my jersey," infielder Oli Keohohou said. "I don't see why not, if the price is right."
Most importantly, we were introduced to team mascot Gloria the K9, although the K should be backwards, as in caught looking. Gloria is a large golden retriever, with a fuzzy tale, floppy ears and bright blue sneakers. She winks, which brought much amusement to the massive crowd of youth softball players who eventually descended on the press conference.
"We thought it'd be cute," Wilson said, of the winkable eyes, "so she could flirt with the umpires."
Gloria the K9 is currently a bit on the naked side, although she was eventually outfitted with a Glory visor. A jersey for her is also on the way. Also, in terms of the person inside the fur, Gloria is not technically a girl.
"We have a he/she mascot; it's a man dressed as a female dog, and it winks," summarized shortstop Amber Jackson. "I can't stop laughing."
Fans had no trouble divining Gloria's gender; "Let's be real here, look at the eyes, the eyelashes," said Ellen Wessinger, a parent with the Mount Vernon Magic. "Men would not have eyelashes that long."
"She needs some eyeliner and mascara," observed her daughter, 14-year-old Megan.
"But her feet are too big for a girl," said older sister Jessie.
Anyhow, the Glory's players, of course, had come from other franchises. Some came from Akron; they said their old team had a cat-like mascot; a jaguar or cheetah or something like that. Others came from Arizona, where the mascot was a dragon named Fuego. I asked if they preferred Gloria.
"Well, I have to get to know Gloria," outfielder LaDonia Hughes said. "Because I was pretty good friends with Fuego."
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