Humber softball captured the first national medal in the program’s history, but for the players and the coaching staff, the achievement was far more than just precious metal on a ribbon.
The Hawks departed to British Columbia on Oct. 6 to kick off their journey and battle to take the first national medal in the history of Humber softball.
That history was written in diamond Number 1 on Sunday, Oct. 8, at Centennial Park in the small city of Langford, where the Hawks defeated the UBC-Okanagan Heat and secured the bronze.
However, the greatest achievement for the players and coaching staff transcended the pitch. It extended to everyone who had been once part of this close family.
Senior player Alexis Ferreira said the win was not only on the shoulders of the current players.
She said many other people drove them, including former players and the people who started and helped push the Humber program to where it is today.
The achievement was also for everybody back home. The win was for everyone.
“We won, but the people who were here before us can look and see everything that they put into the program is just as important as what we have been putting in now because we would not be here without them. This is not just an us win, it is an everybody win,” Ferreira said.
Earning that national medal is clearly seen among the players as a long-term process.
Graduating player Hannah Koziolek had one word to describe the emotion that overwhelmed her as the final out was recorded, marking a historic moment for Humber.
Koziolek said leaving the program in a better state than they initially found it is a big thing often discussed among players and coaching staff.
“In the five years me and my other seniors have been here, we have seen a lot of change and a lot of culture shift,” she said. “This was the cherry on top to prove that we did do something positive to change the program and put us on a good trajectory.”
For Ferreira and Koziolek, setting a good example is key as fifth-year players. They understand the important role they play, especially for the young players coming in, and both emphasize how this group is more than a team, but a family.
Coach Duaine Bowles and the coaching staff are one of the main reasons why this sense of family is so alive between the players. Bowles does not only want to build great players on the pitch but also elite women who will leave a lasting impact on future generations of softball players.
“We tell the girls all the time. They are not just playing for themselves, they are playing for a little girl that potentially wants to play at this level four or five years from now. Every time, try to make sure that when they leave this place, they are going to make a positive impact on the rest of the world. That’s my role,” Bowles said.
In his seventh year with Humber softball, the coach said it was difficult to contain his emotions when seeing his players rushing onto the field to celebrate after the victory.
“Watching them through my eyes, being able to see them jump and celebrate was everything for me. This isn’t about me, this is about them,” the coach said.
Bowles emphasizes the importance of the sense of family.
“We have been really trying to make sure that the girls can trust each other and we are hoping they can trust us. And the only way you can trust is when there’s a bit of love there,” he said.
Ferreira said the assistance from the coach meant everything to her. The senior player believes that without his absurd support, she does not know if she would have achieved the things she did.
“I can thank him endlessly and he will tell me he has nothing to do with it because it’s all me. But I think the acknowledgement of, you helped me become who I am, needs to be made and I will be definitely telling him that after provincials,” Ferreira said.
“That’s his biggest thing, trying to push people past what they think they are capable of doing,” Koziolek said.
While the national accomplishment holds significant importance for the program, players and coaching staff know the job is far from finished.
The OCAA provincial championship is still ahead, and the team is locked in to end the season bringing another medal home.
For the two graduating players, Ferreira and Koziolek, their varsity years might be coming to an end, but once you have been a Humber Hawk, you will always be part of the family.
“Even though I’m leaving, I’m not really leaving. I trust in the team, I trust in the coaching staff, I trust in everyone who’s going to come after me and play for the team. Regardless, a win without me is a win for me anyway. The best way you can say is, you are a family,” Ferreira said.