Blue Valley Recreation News

Wed, Jul. 30, 2014 - [Sports]
News Photo

by Melissa Bellach

Calista Schechinger, Sadie Varhall, and Christie Ambrosi traveled to Italy in July as part of America’s Team, an 18-and-under softball team, to generate support in reinstating softball as an Olympic sport. 

 Ambrosi, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist, graduated from Blue Valley Northwest and conducts softball clinics for Blue Valley Recreation. The girls have a deeper connection – they played against each other in Blue Valley Rec’s league and both have a parent with ties to the organization. Schechinger is the daughter of Blue Valley Rec’s gymnastics coordinator, Angie, and Varhall’s mother, Stacy Obringer-Varhall, is the Blue Valley School Board’s liaison to the Commission. 

 
Ambrosi selected a team of 10 players who represented the United States on a three city tour in Milan, Florence, and Rome. The girls were selected not only for their softball abilities, but for their reputations as positive role models in the community.
 
The nine-day trip featured three doubleheaders with Italian teams. Some games pitted the two countries against each other while other games featured players from both squads on the same side. The focus was similar to what the girls experienced during their days with Blue Valley Rec.
 
“It is such an honor to be selected to represent the United States and help grow the sport of softball,” said Obringer-Varhall. “We are very fortunate to live an area with such a strong recreation program like Blue Valley Rec, which enabled her to play many sports and improve while having fun.”
 
The team also explored the country, visiting the cities of Lake Como, Pisa, and Orvieto. Day trips were also taken to famous Italian landmarks - the Colosseum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was as much a life experience as it was an athletic one.
 
“It was an amazing learning experience for the girls to see another culture and interact with the Italian players,” said Obringer-Varhall.
 
“It was more about experiencing the Italian culture then it was about the actual game,” Schechinger’s father, Chris, agreed. “Watching the girls interact and communicate with each other was the best part.”
 
Ambrosi is one of several Olympians and college players/coaches taking teams overseas in an attempt to gain exposure. Team USA won three gold medals in softball – 1996 in Atlanta, 2000 in Sydney, and 2004 in Athens – before the sport was declassified as an Olympic sport in 2005 along with baseball. Ambrosi vowed to continue her efforts when she is not conducting camps and clinics for Blue Valley Rec.
 
 
 
Hours of Operation

Activity Center (AC)
6545 W. 151st Street

Monday - Friday: 6:00A-9:00P
Saturday: 7:00A-7:00P
Sunday: 12:00P-7:00P
913-685-6000

Rec Center at Hilltop (RC)
7720 W. 143rd Street
Monday-Friday: 5:30A-10:00P
Saturday: 7:00A-8:00P
Sunday: 8:00A-8:00P
913-685-6090

Sports Complex Office (SC)
9701 W. 137th Street

Monday-Friday: 8:00A-4:30P
913-685-6030

Administrative Offices
6545 W. 151st Street

Monday-Friday: 8:00A-4:30P
913-685-6000

Vision Statement:

"Enriching Lives, Strengthening a Spirit of Community"

Mission Statement:

"We will champion community and personal growth through dynamic lifelong recreation experiences."