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Lady Legion softball coming to Wake Forest

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WAKE FOREST — For the first time ever, American Legion Post 187 will start a fast-pitch softball team to represent Wake Forest and the northern Wake County area.

After seeing the success of local high school softball teams and the support from the American Legion baseball team last year, girls in the local area will get a chance to play travel ball with a new organization.

Julie Kruse-John and Jason Romano led the effort to get a team started in Wake Forest. Lady Legion softball is still a new concept to the country.

American Legion baseball has been going on for 94 years, but it was only two years ago that the western part of North Carolina started a Lady Legion softball team. Kruse-John talked about the historical significance of American Legion-sponsored softball teams.

“The Legion officially recognized them throughout the whole state, making them the first Legion softball team recognized in the entire country,” Kruse-John said. “After reaching 40 teams, they moved it east and we added eight more states in the surrounding region.”

Kruse-John and her husband, Joe John, started North Carolina Amateur Baseball Club, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to training boys and girls how to play the game of baseball and softball in the local area. They have gained so much recognition within the past year, that the American Legion reached out to them for starting the first Lady Legion softball team in Wake Forest.

“The Legion looked into groups around here and they found NCABC,” Kruse-John said. “They contacted me after knowing that I helped start some softball programs in the surrounding area. Coming from a family of veterans, we asked what we could do to hit the ground running.”

NCABC partnered with American Legion Post 187 to officially start a softball program. Post 187 started their first baseball team last year and are now already getting a softball squad together.

“We’ve been contacting coaches, players, administrators and other legion posts in the area,” Kruse-John said. “We’re letting them know about the league. It’s pretty cool and we’re excited.”

To lead the first Lady Legion softball team, NCABC selected Romano to be the head coach. Romano has been coaching baseball and softball for six years. He played travel baseball in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is also a veteran after spending eight years serving in the Army.

Romano already has coaching experience in the local area. He was an assistant coach with the Carolina Phanatics and the head coach for the 6-8-year-old Futures Program of the NCABC.

“Coaching is just something that I like to do,” Romano said. “Baseball is in my blood.”

The whole process of getting a Lady Legion softball team started derives from NCABC’s commitment to developing kids into great student-athletes on and off the field. Unlike showcase travel ball teams, where parents have to spend money to send their kids to get looked at by college scouts, NCABC focuses more on traveling to nearby teams during the week to make it easier for both the players and parents.

The team behind NCABC started this kind of program through the North Wake Fungo at The Factory. Once their program grew, it expanded in NCABC, which is independently owned by Kruse-John and her crew.

“My husband Joe John and Robert Dudley focus more on development and less on showcasing,” Kruse-John said. “The families loved it and our players loved it. They enjoyed not traveling on the weekends and getting burned out. We went from one team to 13 teams in a year. Once that happened, we parted ways with North Wake and started NCABC.”

The Lady Legion program is already getting sponsors from organizations such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, which helps contribute with equipment.

After seeing the amount of support from Post 187’s baseball team last year, NCABC expanded to American Legion Post 297 located at 3600 Lee Road in Raleigh. That shows that the competition is growing, which is a good sign for the Lady Legion team. There are also other Lady Legion softball teams starting in Durham and southern Wake County, which will provide early competition for the Wake Forest squad.

“I just want a good softball mindset out of our players and coaches,” Romano said. “We want to teach kids to be good citizens on and off the softball field.”

Tryouts for the first Lady Legion softball team will be held Wednesday, May 1 at Ravenscroft High School’s softball field at 6 p.m. The registration to try out is free and the link to register is www.northcarolinabbsb.com.

For more information, contact Julie Kruse-John at nwfungo@gmail.com.

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