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The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

Stillwater Pony Express

Adapted softball begins second season

Photo by Camryn Handberg
The adapted softball team gets a pep talk from head coach Suzanne Ericson after a close game on April 23. They continue to improve their skills in only their second season as a team.

In 1996, adapted softball was added to the Minnesota State High School League. In 2023, Stillwater Area High School started playing for the first time.

The team consists of students starting from sixth grade through senior year. The team has 18 players, five of whom are students in the Mahtomedi district and 13 from Stillwater.

All adapted sports teams in the MSHSL consist of players from multiple districts. This allows schools with fewer eligible athletes the opportunity to play as a team and compete in the MSHSL.

The Stillwater/Mahtomedi adapted sports program has been playing soccer in the fall since the early 2000’s and floor hockey in the winter since 2017.

“Between the Stillwater and Mahtomedi school districts it was decided that we wanted to have a spring sport,” paraprofessional Carrie Kearney said.

“I am an adaptive softball paraprofessional so that means I support the team and the student athletes. This is my second year helping with the team,” Kearney said.

In the spring of 2023 the first season for adapted softball began. “Mahtomedi wanted to host, meaning the head coaches and practices would be at their school,” Kearney said.  Their school would also be the home field for all home games.

Head coach Suzanne Ericson is a special education teacher in the Mahtomedi school district. Mahtomedi is the partner district for our adapted sports teams.

“This is my second year coaching and my first experience ever being a coach,” Ericson said. “It has been a learning curve for me as well as the players.”

Between the Stillwater and Mahtomedi school districts it was decided that we wanted to have a spring sport.”

— Carrie Kearney

Softball is a short and fast season with only six games. They played two games a week starting on April 16.

Adapted softball is played indoors with a wiffle ball. Senior Maddie Buse has been the primary pitcher since the team formed in 2023. “I love being the star pitcher,” Buse said.

“During weekly practices we stretch out, run, throw, catch and even play a game together each time. It is a fun time together with our friends as we learn the skills of playing softball,” Ericson said.

“For me the best part of being on this team is helping people. I also like to run,” junior Jack Ridgeman said.

Sophomore Liam Chau played on a softball team before joining the school team. “I play whatever position they need me to play,” Chau said. “I am a good team leader.”

Having only played together as a team for two seasons they are still learning and working on their skills.

“The biggest challenge is to remember all that is learned in practice and do that during the game when under pressure,” Ericson said.  “All of our players are great contributors in their own ways and are valuable to the team”.

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About the Contributor
Cathleen Costello
Cathleen Costello, Photography Editor
My name is Cathleen Costello.  I am a sophomore and a photographer editor for the Pony Express. I am a member of trust club, a cheerleader on the adapted cheer squad and part of a group called The Pixie Park Crew that meets after school once a week to work on a Davinci Fest project. I enjoy building in my she shed fairy workshop at my house.  I look forward to becoming a better writer and photographer for the Pony Express.  

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