The Backstop softball training facility in Warwick welcomed a special guest last weekend, as former University of Washington infielder Morgan Stuart made the trip from her home in California to hold a clinic as part of her Defense Club.
Stuart, 30, was part of the Huskies’ 2009 National Championship team. She was named to that year’s All-Tournament team and was a three-time All-Pac-10 honorable mention.
Stuart is now a full-time softball trainer and focuses specially on defense, as well as the mental aspect of the game.
“We reached out to Morgan last summer to talk to her about her Defense Club, which also teaches how to deal with the mental mindset of the game, how to deal with failure. A lot of people that come in brush off the bad parts of the game and focus on the good parts instead of focusing on how to deal with the bad, and that’s what her camp is all about,” said the Backstop’s Operations Coordinator Zeena Barbarita.
The Backstop founder and head instructor Emily Johnson was excited to welcome Stuart into the facility and also believes that teaching young athletes the importance of mental toughness is vital.
“It’s very important. One thing that I’ve noticed when doing my indoor training is that it’s an isolated facility and an isolated environment. You can do super well here, but what happens when you’re in an in-game situation? What happens when someone cranks a big hit off of you? How do you not let it affect the rest of your game? That is a big issue that I see, girls can get so emotionally affected by these things, but softball is a game of failures, and it’s important to know how to channel that and to not let it take you over mentally,” said Johnson.
Johnson was also excited to bring in a softball talent like Stuart to the local circuit and to have her share her experience with her students.
“One challenge was that a lot of parents didn’t know who Morgan was. If you had a son playing baseball, it would be like Pedro Martinez or Big Papi coming in, that’s the scale that she is on in the softball world,” said Johnson. “It’s crazy. It’s exciting to be able to bring opportunities such as this with Morgan to Rhode Island. To have someone from California, which is such a softball-heavy environment, come to Rhode Island is amazing. Softball is still growing in this state, we don’t have the same resources as those places that get to play year round. Being able to bring these opportunities to the state is rewarding.”
Along with other upcoming clinics, the Backstop has also progressed business-wise over the course of the past year since its opening.
The Backstop is now the first and only Ringor dealer, and also deals Louisville, Easton, DeMarini, and Nakona products. For more information, visit the Backstop at backstopsoftball.com, or check them out on Facebook.