Every player on Scrap Yard Fast Pitch, a professional softball team, quit the team earlier this month when their general manager Connie May promoted President Donald Trump's message regarding standing for the national anthem in a tweet. Members of the Texas-based team believed the message did not represent their values. They have since formed a new team called This Is Us.
The since deleted from May read: "Hey @realDonaldTrump Pro Fastpitch being played live … Everyone standing for the FLAG!" The tweet was sent out during the first game of the season in June, which featured Scrap Yard Fast Pitch facing off against the USSSA Pride in Florida.
This Is Us. I am so proud of this group and even more proud to be standing with so many empowered women! We will make a change. This is our story. This is a new beginning.— Kiki Stokes (@KStokes10) June 26, 2020
In order to continue playing we need your help. Please check out our website. https://t.co/u30RDTHqtR pic.twitter.com/JGeu9bbVDj
Ultimately, the players team did not like that May made it seem like they did not support the Black Lives Matter movement. According to The New York Times, May spoke to the team afterwards and drove home the message that "All lives matter," a phrase that has become viewed as a way to invalidate the experiences of the Black community.
Kelsey Stewart, who is one of two Black players on the Scrap Yard Fast Pitch said, "I never really thought that she didn't care about my life or Kiki [Stokes'] life until that post."
Stokes wrote a long post on Twitter addressing the situation and where she stood:
"I am so hurt. Never in my playing career or even life have I felt so hurt. I have never felt so small in a locker room, so helpless, so lonely... I feel betrayed, embarrassed, disgusted, angry ... to come to into that locker room after a game and have no idea that the organization I stayed loyal to for the last five years and put my honest to God heart and soul into wasn't looking out for me but more importantly my community hurts."
She told the fans that this is bigger than softball and thanked her teammates for sticking by her.
Pitcher and Olympic gold medalist Cat Osterman said that she got "angrier" about the situation the more the players talked about it.
"We were used as pawns in a political post, and that's not OK," Osterman told the New York Times.
Their new team, This Is Us, plans to be donation based and they have already taken the field wearing shirts with the message, "Awareness. Empowerment. Unity."
They wore names of prominent Black softball players on their back, including Natasha Watley, the first Black woman to play for the U.S. softball team. Watley was moved by the team's courage and told The Undefeated, "It's powerful that not one of them stood back and said, 'This doesn't really affect me; I'd rather play.' We're already getting paid pennies and now we're going to get paid nothing to stand up for this. That's how much it matters."