Sassy Sisters vs Tacoma Tide
PUYALLUP, WA – On Saturday, August 7th Sisters from Locals 129, 30, and 816 in Western Washington, including EST Evelyn Shapiro, competed in a Beep Ball baseball game against the Tacoma Tide at Elk’s Field in Puyallup, Washington. The Tides are part of the Beep Ball Clubs of Washington, which provides challenging, physically demanding, and enjoyable competitive baseball and kickball for athletes who are blind or visually impaired.
Sisters from Northwest Carpenters Union put together a team, “The Sassy Sisters,” to take on the Tacoma Tide to raise awareness about opportunities for the visually impaired and blind to participate in competitive sports. Participants, whether visually impaired or blindfolded (as was the case for sisters), dove on the ground to grab a beeping ball, to stop the opposing team from scoring, and ran full speed 100 feet towards the sound of a buzzing base to score a run.
“Fielding was more difficult than batting,” said Sheena Fowler, eighth-period apprentice (Local 30). “The six of us in the field had to be vocal so our teammates could hear us when the ball was struck. When that happens, someone flips a switch for the speakers on the two bases (which are in first and third base position). That determines which way the batter will be running. Fielders have to find the ball before the batter gets to the base.”
Seeing an opportunity to build an awareness and a sense of partnership with the blind community, the Northwest Carpenters Union encouraged members to attend this fun, family-friendly event and hosted a food truck for lunch. Both teams had so much fun, they played two extra innings. The final score was a tie: 2 to 2.
“I feel freedom when I play,” said Maritza Dowe, President of the Tacoma Tide, a founding member of the team who frequently attends Washington Sisters meetings. She credits Linda Romanovitch (Local 30) with putting together the competition between the Tacoma Tide and the Sassy Sisters. “Being totally blind I feel like I don’t have many opportunities to participate in activities. Playing Beep Ball has opened a whole new world for me. When community members come to our games, they get interested in the game and start to know us. As blind and vision-impaired people playing a sport like Beep Baseball makes us approachable.”
Coach Al Yardley has also been involved in the Tacoma Tide since their start seven years ago. He teaches blind and vision-impaired students to use technology. “It was a student of mine that introduced me to Beep Baseball,” said Yardley. “The Sassy Sisters were just great. They approached the sport with commitment and enthusiasm. It was pure joy to play Beep Baseball with them. I hope we can make this an annual event!”
The following sisters made up the Sassy Sisters: from Local 30 Keriann Dunn, Sheena Fowler, Linda Romanovitch, Evelyn Shapiro, Dawn Steinwright, Mandy Richardson, Aspen Swartz, and from Local 129 Kristine Cole with her daughters Caroline and Haylee, Jennifer Golphenee, Melissa Kulczyk, and Angela Perry.