Senior Beth Greenwood is used to hearing, “you should switch to softball.”
Greenwood, who’s been playing ball since five years old, is a catcher for UR Baseball, and recently made the USA Baseball 2021 National Team Development Program roster, a program training and working with athletes to prepare them for playing on the official USA Baseball roster.
Her goal is to make it to the top 20 for Team USA Baseball, which will allow her to compete in worldwide competitions like the baseball world cup. Greenwood started to interact and participate in USA Baseball in 2018 at 18 years old, where she attended an open try-out in North Carolina. Greenwood described the tryouts as intimidating due to the amount of experience and talent present, but that year she made the top 40 roster for Team USA. COVID-19 stopped Greenwood from trying to make the top 20 roster for the 2020 world cup, but she hasn’t let it discourage her.
When she’s not traveling and trying out for national teams, Greenwood plays here at home for UR. Her journey started her first year, when she tried out but didn’t make the cut. She played on a club team, and promised herself that she would try out again each year.
Greenwood went to bat again as a sophomore, making the practice roster, where she participated in lifting and practice sessions with the team. When Greenwood returned to campus for her junior year, after spending time at home practicing and improving, she officially earned a spot on the team, something she cited as uncommon for female players.
“A lot of the women on your [USA Baseball] team are either current or former Division One softball players,” she said. “To have this opportunity [at UR] is to my advantage.”
Greenwood’s involvement in baseball doesn’t stop on the field. Greenwood lent her baseball skills to help train actors for the upcoming Amazon Prime series, a spin-off of “A League of Their Own.” In addition to helping out with training, she will also be an extra in some scenes.
“I probably won’t be in very much, but you might see me at bat or something like that,” Greenwood said. “It’s cool to be a part of helping tell this story. Being a part of the actual history that’s happening today in real time. So it’s cool to kind of appear on both sides.”
Greenwood has met and talked with notable figures in baseball such as Justine Siegal, one of the first women to coach for a MLB team, Veronica Alvarez, a coach for USA Baseball who is currently working with the Oakland A’s, and Kim Ng, the first woman to serve as a general manager in the MLB. Greenwood mentioned a memorable experience at a 2019 USA Baseball training session where Ng was hanging out at the batting cages. “[Ng’s] taking time, just to talk to us and she wants to know, ‘what is my story?’” Greenwood said. “It was cool because she treated everyone like anybody else.”
Greenwood described the pressure she feels at times playing baseball and what she has learned from it. She recognizes that for many, she may be the first female player they see at a higher level. Whether it be a single at bat or play, she admitted to definitely feeling some expectations each time she steps on the field, knowing that if she makes a mistake, “that is one person’s opinion, for the rest of their life, on what women in baseball look like.”
“That’s a lot to put on a teenage kid or even a little kid. That’s a lot of pressure. And so I think my biggest thing is that, like, I still am myself every day. And I hope that like other athletes, whether that’s baseball or whatever, just remind [themselves], [they’re] a kid. I don’t care about your age, if you play the game, you’re still a kid.”
Despite her youthful outlook, Greenwood knows she won’t play forever. “Let me say, from the beginning, baseball has always been kind of like a huge part of my life,” Greenwood explained. “But I think there was a point where it kind of changed, where it was about a lot more than just baseball. And I don’t know exactly when that change happened. It might have been in high school. Maybe it was when I came here, but I kind of realized that there’s going to be a day where I hang up the cleats.”
Greenwood also travels across the country, connecting with other women in baseball, and trades her stories and experiences with them. At one of the first camps she went to, 30 girls attended, which was a significant experience for her. Before that point, she had not seen many girls play baseball. Now, Greenwood is excited to see a first-year UR student try to walk on to the UR Baseball team.
“As a little kid, I had dreamed that maybe [girls playing baseball] could be a thing, but it’s really hard to be something when you don’t really get to see it,” Greenwood said. “I know that there’s little kids that I’m having that impact on, and they’re having these moments of ‘oh my gosh, if she’s doing it, why can’t I?’”
“It’s been cool to have this kind of full circle moment. I think I’m having lasting impacts and completely changing these kids’ lives for the better and showing them that they can pursue their dreams and passions. And I mean, that’s outside of baseball, too, even if they don’t end up sticking with baseball. It’s helped them just in life, just realizing that it’s okay to go after what you want to do.”