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Torey Stutts
Assignment 3
The World of Softball
Discourse communities are everywhere in life whether you notice it or not. A discourse
community is a group of people who all share the same interest and goal within the community.
A discourse that I am a part of is the sport of softball and being a part of a softball team for many
years. Softball is a large community of athletes who come together to have fun and I became a
part of this community at age six. Like any sport, the game of softball becomes very complex as
you gain more knowledge about the discourse. It starts off simple and then after getting the hang
of the game itself, there are several advanced options and lessons to learn. There are many
different sub-communities within the world of softball. You could categorize by school-ball
grade levels, professional levels, or just plain for fun adult leagues. I became literate in the
secondary discourse of softball through a series of steps including learning the basics, improving
skills, and having fun/creating bonds. The right coaches and teams helped me grow into this
community and the bonds that were created with my team made me acquire this secondary
As with any sport there is always a beginning stage that consists of learning the basics.
This includes learning the basic vocabulary, mechanics, uniform and terms such as what the
name of the bases are, how to get someone out, or how to throw and catch a ball. At age six, I

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was a part of a little league baseball team which eventually led me into softball during the 4th
grade. My parents had to buy all my gear and the team provided team t-shirts for everyone and
this is what we wore. Our pants still had to be baseball/softball pants but it didnt matter what
brand or style. When I first joined this discourse I did not know anything at all and it was very
difficult at first. From playing with my mom I knew how to hold a bad and how to throw and
catch a ball. However, I remember one day when I was at baseball practice and the ball was hit to
me. Once I picked up the ball everyone was yelling at me to throw the ball to 1st base. Well,
because I was new to this discourse, I did not know the basics. I had no idea where 1st base was
so I threw it to 2nd because it was closest to me, although at the time I didnt know that was 2nd
base either. This is an example of the beginning stage of learning the discourse.
I was able to learn the rest of the bare minimal/basic of the game during that first year of
playing baseball. I was taught by the coaches that you got three strikes/chances to hit the ball and
run to the base. I learned that there were three outs before the teams switched in the field and that
the team who got the most runs through home base is the team that won the game. However, now
that I learned the bare minimal basic steps, it was time to slowly advance into the middle stages
of this discourse. The first example of this that I can remember is one day when we learned to
slide. Just knowing the term slide I thought I knew what was expected of me so as I ran to the
next base I pushed my feet in front of my body so that the gravel and dirt under my shoes would
make my feet slide without falling and touch the base. I did not understand why the coach kept
asking me to do this over and over until finally a teammate finally showed me how and it all
clicked for me. Sliding actually meant that when you were a few feet from the base you drop
your body to the ground and slide with feet forward the rest of the way. The purpose of this was
that your body is now on the ground and if the opponents players has the ball they now have a

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farther distance to move to try and tag you and get you out. Learning to slide was just the first
way in which I started the middle stage of learning this community.
At this time I was in middle school and learning to advance more of my skills. By this
time I was playing softball with all girls and we had learned to fast pitch. Between baseball and
softball I learned how to pitch and I became one of two pitchers for our middle school team.
Entering middle school and playing for the school was a huge stage in learning this discourse.
The game became more competitive and because of this, I learned to advance more skills and
this was a key step in learning the discourse. I remember one day when we had a faster pitcher
come to our practice and pitch balls to us. As a team we learned different skills and hitting drills
so that our hitting would improve and we would be able to hit a wider range of balls. For
example, on that specific day we watched a video with a player demonstrating a swing by
breaking it into three stages then practiced these stages on our own before hitting in front of the
live pitcher. This shows an example of what steps were taken to advance different skills. When
entering into high school this was the final stage of learning the softball discourse for me.
High school is an exciting stage in life for most kids. Its when we are all taking big steps
in our independence and becoming adults. High school is also the most competitive stage of the
softball discourse that I was a part of. The final stage of learning the softball discourse for me
was learning different values and beliefs. It was also a great stage that tested my sportsmanship
and attitude as a player. I remember the first practice of my freshman year our coach held an
indoor meeting in a classroom. We didnt even pick up a ball the first day. Instead, she used the
entire practice time to talk to us about being good players on and off the field. From that day I
learned that yes, softball is just a game, but it is also so much more. Our team represented our

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school and our values were geared towards keeping a clean reputation and this is something that
was always kept at the back of my mind throughout my four years of playing in high school.
There were six players including myself who were freshmen when we started playing for
the school and we grew up playing with each other each year up until we graduated. Learning
this secondary discourse taught me a lot and as I grew up with these other young ladies our
attitudes changed. We started our high school career acting snotty towards each other and we all
wanted to be better than the other. I remember one day when our coach felt the tension in the bus
ride after a hard loss to another team. Some of us were playing the blame game on each other and
the coach actually pulled the bus over and had a talk with us. Our coach explained that softball
always required a team effort and it is never one single player who wins or loses the game. She
explained that each of us has a strong attribute and we all must play strong together. It was a
good talk and we learned from that lecture that we dont need to try to be better than each other
but that we need to be better as a team and be better working together. She explained that we
need to use each individuals different strengths to better our team. By the end of our senior year
in high school our varsity senior class had grown stronger than ever. We had many fights within
the team, a lot of hard feelings, but in the end we all came together with unbreakable bonds and
love for each other. We accomplished the long term goal of softball by just having so much fun
over the years. Its the good fun times that we remember to most not the normal ordinary days.
The path to learning the secondary discourse of softball has been a very long one and for
now it is over for me. I have chosen not to continue playing softball in college so that I am able
to focus on my studies and earn a degree. However this is not the end of the learning road for all
people. There will always be more things to learn about the softball discourse and there are
intermural or professional career choices that can be made. For example, Edwin Amenta talks

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about his change from player to manager in an adult softball league. In his article Edwin talks
about how their softball manager quit on the team and he had to take over and learn a different
aspect of the discourse. He had to learn the ropes of managing versus being a player (Amenta).
This just goes to show how complex this discourse is and how when you think you are at an
expert level, there is always more knowledge to gain. Similar to Edwin, my friend and former
teammate Lauren VonCannon has also made the decision to continue learning the softball
discourse. I interviewed Lauren in our hometown one weekend about her future goals and
choices. When asked what her future in softball would be she replied School and academics will
always come first, just like they did while we were in high school, but I think I have decided to
try out for the school team next year and in the meantime play intramural. Lauren took a year
off from softball because she did not get scouted by her school coach to play for them. Lauren is
a prime example of how the community never ends.

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Works Cited
Amenta, Edwin. Softball and the Social Scientist. Contexts: Understanding People in Their
Social Worlds. 6.2 (2007): 40-45. Print.
Fouts, Chuck. Jennie Finch is Still Softballs Role Model. Jennie Finch is Still Softballs Role
Model. ChicagoNow, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
Tarr, Mary A. "Girls' Fast Pitch Softball: How to Develop a Pitcher." PlaySportsTV.
PlaySportsTV, 2012. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
Veroni, Kathy J. Coaching Fastpitch Softball Successfully. Chammpaign, IL: Human Kinetics,
1998. Print.
VonCannon, Lauren. High School Softball. Personal Interview by Torey J. Stutts. n.d.: n. pag.

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