Where do the paths of the campus nurse, the chair of the Politics Department, and an assistant vice president cross? This past summer, it was on the women’s softball field on Wednesday evenings, as faculty and staff participated in the Pomona College Summer Softball League.
Players brought varying levels of experience to the field, including some who had never played softball. They played “Chicago style,” which uses a 16-inch ball that is soft and difficult to hit long distances.
Bob Robinson, assistant vice president of facilities, started the league in 2022, with the goal of building community. He wanted to get “faculty and staff interacting in a very different way than they’re used to,” he says.
Meeting new people was what motivated Amanda Hollis-Brusky, professor and chair of politics, to join the league the last two summers. This past summer, her team consisted of members of the facilities department, Asian studies department, finance office and various other offices across campus. They dubbed themselves the “Softballers” and donned matching emblazoned shirts.
“These are people I never would have met or gotten to know very well had they not been on my team,” says Hollis-Brusky.
Stephanie Garcia-Barragan, Pomona College nurse, was one of those teammates. “I loved seeing a different side of colleagues,” she says, adding, “I never thought I’d enjoy softball as much as I did. This is something that I’ll look forward to every summer.”
The league “breaks down barriers between departments, between people,” says Robinson. “You get to see people in a different light.”
Departments can field their own team or join forces with another office. Individuals can also sign up and be placed on a team. This year, four teams competed from the beginning of June to the end of July, and ultimately the team from the physical education department prevailed.
But taking home the trophy wasn’t really the point. Rather, camaraderie won the day. After each game, during what’s known affectionately as the “eighth inning,” players stuck around and socialized around refreshments, and the entire season culminated with a barbecue.
Hollis-Brusky would “love to see broader participation” next summer. “It really is super fun,” she says.
Faculty and staff members who are interested in joining the league can look for emails from Bob Robinson in the spring.