UNION, NJ – Union High School softball players are sending a message of optimism and encouragement in a video where players hold up homemade signs reading:  “Once you choose hope, anything is possible.  Please stay home.  Keep safe and have faith.  Union Softball wants to get back on the field.  #UStrong.”

“I am so proud of these girls,” said softball coach Kristin Nunes.  “We have been through a lot together these last few years. We had such a great run last year, and we were all excited to come back and go for the Union County Conference Champs for the Mountain Division again this year, as well as other goals we have.”

“I was really looking forward to my second season of high school softball,” said Kailey McDonough, “and I felt our team was well prepared coming off the winter workout sessions. We were ready to build onto last year’s success after coming out on the top of our conference.”  McDonough said while she misses softball, “we all understand how some families have been affected by this virus and what is really important right now.” 

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McDonough said she works out with my sister in the backyard to help get through these trying times and to make sure she’s ready when they can get on the field again. “This video we put together as a team was meant to show solidarity,” she added.  “Together we wanted to be one voice of gratitude and hope.”

 “Softball is a major part of my high school experience and really my everyday life,” said Kaiya Simpkins.  “Not being able to play on the field with all my teammates and especially my senior teammates is pretty hard to get through.”  That’s one of the main reasons why it was important for the team to create something special, she said, “that symbolizes our unity and connection we share through softball.”

Simpkins said for everyone on the team, softball is not just a sport they play, but a lifestyle.  “Not a day goes by where I don’t think about getting back on the field and playing with my team,” she said.  “It’s up to us as a team and as a softball family to keep our hopes up so that we can to get back to doing what we know best.”

“Having done the awareness video with my girls reminded me about how strong our unity is as a team,” said Elizabeth Arias.   “As team captain, I couldn’t allow the girls to think this was it for us,” she said.  “I checked in with my girls constantly, assuring them they had someone to reach out to.”

Arias said players created the video as a team to show the Union community their unity, “not just as a team but how we can come together as Union residents as well.”

Senior and starting pitcher Alyssa Thomas said, “I am pretty bummed that I won't be able to spend my last year on the field on which I played for the previous three. I do wish I was able to play those last games with the people I grew up playing softball with.”  However, Thomas wanted to work with her team to put together the “to spread awareness that we need to stay strong and stay home for the people who can't. Even though there is no season to be played this year, I know my coaches and teammates gave me great memories from the others.”

“I do miss these girls,” added Nunes.  “They are a hard-working group of young ladies that just want to get out there and play.”