I remember sitting down at my first SCLL Board meeting in October 2014.
I had to give a short speech on why I wanted to join the Board.
I had something I thought was funny memorized, but when I got up to speak I forgot what I was going to say.
What I do remember is staring at the audience, almost entirely comprised of people I did not know, trying to find the words for why I showed up that night and wanted to be a part of this organization.
I remember looking at the faces and thinking “why aren't there any women in this group?”
In hindsight after I stumbled through that speech I’m surprised they approved my nomination to the Board.
But here I am heading into my 3rd year on the Board.
And as I sat down for yet another Board meeting kicking off another Little League season in October 2016, there were still no female members on the SCLL Board.
There is the Auxillary Board of course which is headed by President Erin Friday and the women on that Board do an amazing job of helping SCLL with apparel sales, tryouts, Opening Day, and all sorts of other events.
Women have always been welcome to join the SCLL Board.
There were several attempts made at recruitment during my tenure, but it just never worked out.
So as I sat down for the first registration session of the 2017 baseball season in November 2016, I was pleasantly surprised to see Danielle Van Wert sitting next to me.
I knew Danielle because our sons went to Brittan Acres and now attend Arroyo together.
I was even more pleasantly surprised when Danielle told me she joined the Board as the new Farm Director for 2017.
So I asked Danielle if I could interview her to get her story.
I was curious why she joined the Board and if she knew she would be the only female in the group.
The Board is open to everyone, but maybe the community is unaware of that, and perhaps hearing Danielle’s story will inspire other women to join next year.
I met Danielle at Peet’s Coffee.
She took a break from walking her dog Bruschi and we sat down on a bench outside of Peet’s.
She named her dog Bruschi because she has a lot of family in Boston and is a big Boston sports fan.
In fact as I was talking to her she was wearing a “Boston Strong” hat.
Danielle’s dog is named after Teddy Bruschi who played 13 years with the New England Patriots and won 3 Super Bowls.
Although Danielle has family in Boston, she really grew up everywhere.
Her Dad was in the Army so she spent her childhood in many places such as Oklahoma, Washington DC, and even two stints in Germany.
“I knew how to speak German when I was there but it’s been a long time and I can’t really remember” she said with a smile.
Danielle spent half or her high school in Kansas and then she finished up in Ford Ord, CA.
Fort Ord is a former United States Army post in Monterey Bay which closed in 1994.
But it was open long enough for her Dad to get stationed there and for Danielle to graduate High School in Fort Ord.
Danielle then went to UC Davis which is where I went, so we had plenty to talk about.
There was the Dos Coyotes burrito which just about everyone at the school frequented and we both still miss.
And of course there was sports.
We both attended UC Davis football games back in those days when they were a Division II powerhouse.
I wrote for the Sports Information Department while Danielle attended many games with her friends.
In fact that’s where she first met her husband Chris, a chance encounter at a UC Davis football game.
They have been married for 15 years now and have 3 kids, Jack, Sam and Max.
But it all started in those bleachers at a UC Davis football game many years ago.
But it was time to finish our stroll down memory lane and time for the questions.
I started with a simple question…”what baseball experience do you have?”.
Danielle said she only coached one year of Farm and baseball wasn’t even her favorite sport growing up, that would be basketball and football.
So she learned a lot about baseball Managing the Farm A’s last year.
I asked her what she enjoyed most about Managing.
“I love when you work on something in practice and then it actually works in the game!
We worked really hard on defense and then late in the season we actually got 3 outs in an inning!”
Wait a second, Danielle actually got a Farm team to get 3 outs in an inning???
I coached Farm for a year and I can’t remember us getting 3 outs in an inning, let alone an entire game.
I told her she should get Manager of the Year for that, and we both started laughing.
Ok enough soft tossing questions, it was time to bring the heat.
Why did Danielle join the Board?
“Coaching Farm last year made me realize how much work it is and how much time and sacrifice it required.
It made me realize how much others in the community – coaches, Board members, etc – give of their time so that the kids can benefit.
Steve Kempton and Scott Odom (former and current SCLL Presidents) approached me and asked if I wanted to join the Board this year.
I guess that got me thinking about how much fun it was to coach Farm and how it was a great opportunity to do even more for the kids.
When I heard they wanted me to team up with Josh Berta as Farm Director, I was excited to work with Josh as we are both on the School Board.
I talked it over with my family and they were so supportive of it so I decided to go for it!”
“Did you know you were going to be the only female on the Board?” I asked.
“I suspected” Danielle said with a long drawn out sentence as she busted out laughing.
“Any reservations about that???”
“None whatsoever” she emphatically said.
“In fact everyone has been nothing but so kind and helpful to me right from the start”.
So we got off the topic of sports, baseball and the Board and I asked Danielle what else she enjoys doing in her free time.
She works at Orrick where she is a Senior Associate of the Securities Litigation Group.
In the little free time she has she is part of a book club and a knitting club.
In fact she joked around with her kids after joining the Board and told them that during her first Board Meeting she would bring her knitting kit in and knit a sweater.
Her kids pleaded with her, “Mom PLEASE don’t do that, we are going to get so embarrassed at school if our friends find out!!!!”.
Well Danielle survived her first Board meeting.
She didn’t knit a sweater during the meeting and her introduction speech was a lot better than mine.
And hopefully Danielle has opened up the doors to even more females joining the Board in future years.