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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Play-by-play with the DC alumni softball team

I recently chatted with Tom Lombardi 00C (below, left) about his experience coaching the Washington, DC chapter’s alumni softball team. The team has been on fire as of late, boasting a 10-1 record and sitting on top of their division as they head into a crucial double-header this weekend.

Erin Crews 09C 09G, EAA: How did the softball team first come about? What kind of league does the team play in, and who can be involved?

Tom: The league is the Capital Alumni Network, or CAN. It’s an organization of alumni associations in the DC area. Well over 100 schools are represented. It involves everything from sports to community service, but one of the main focal points of CAN is the sports league, which consists of basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and football. There are about 70 teams participating in the sports league and Emory has been a member since 2005. Jeannette Harkin and Jon Levy—Jeannette graduated in 2003 and Jon in 2004—got the ball rolling and got the team started in 2005. Now we have 38 people on the team.

EAA: Tell me a little bit about how the past season has gone for the team and where things are heading for the rest of the year.

Tom: We’ve had a very successful season so far. Our current record is ten wins and one loss. We’re sitting on top of our division—in CAN there are eight divisions—and out of all the teams, we’re currently tied for first with the University of Colorado. We had some very big wins playing Texas A&M, Notre Dame, teams we had played in the past. You know, the little rivalries we’ve developed.

We have three more games in the season and a double-header this weekend. The winner of the games this weekend will determine who wins the division. And we have one final game against Illinois on July 24th, after which we have the double-elimination, end-of-the-year tournament. All 70 teams participate. It’s an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink affair. All the teams are very festive, and it’s basically one big party, but the focal point is the softball.

EAA: What do you and your team members get out of playing softball on an Emory team?

Tom: One of the best parts is that we have fun playing and getting together once a week. We develop really strong relationships. I’d say most of my friends here, I met through Emory sports. We all go to parties and weddings, we go out to lunch together—we’re a very close-knit group. It definitely expands beyond the Emory circle, but we look to each other for guidance and advice. When you move to a new city, it’s hard to make friends. You’re working, you’re trying to establish yourself. But Emory has made it very easy—for me, joining the softball team in particular—to get to know 20 to 30 people and become very good friends with some of them.

EAA: Are you involved in any other alumni activities?

Tom: Sports is the main thing that I participate in, but we do participate in other events. The Meet Emory! party, I went to that. Volunteering at the food bank for Emory Cares. We all have our schedules and competing obligations, but I think in general people are very involved in the Emory Alumni Association up here in DC.

I think our oldest alumnus graduated in 1997 and our youngest in 2008. Some went to grad school, some went to law school. So it’s a very diverse mix of people that participate. It’s made for a very enjoyable time when we get together and play. When people are looking for jobs, we can help them. Or when people need a place to live—it’s a very strong community we have. And sports have really been a kind of focal point of that. It’s a very supportive environment. When new people come into it, I think they do find that it helps them acclimate to DC, to this community.

Photos by Christine Ruffo 99C

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