Christopher Astacio, the highly praised coach of the Lady Tigers, tells us why he decided to be part of the group starting The League.
My softball coaching journey began with the Lady Tigers in 2013. A few years later in 2016, the team was invited onto the field at Yankee Stadium where they were honored and given the opportunity to run out with the Yankees.
The following year the Lady Tigers made headlines for their impact in the community and were invited onto the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she gave us a check that would give the girls on the team opportunities they could only dream of. Eventually, their story was made into a book written by Dibs Baer, Lady Tigers in the Concrete Jungle.
Violence was a way of life for the girls in the South Bronx. Some woke up to it at home, and others dodged it on the way to school. The Lady Tigers softball program was created to provide girls a positive outlet to be successful while living in chaos. My softball program set itself apart from others by incorporating the concept of college readiness. The emphasis was to expose my girls to the, “college-athlete experience” which took my girls on an educational adventure.
One of my fondest memories was when we raised enough money to send the team to Florida State University; the first of many trips to colleges and universities. They were able to play on the very field Jennie Finch and Monica Abbott played on in Chicago at Bandits Stadium. The Lady Tigers would get the opportunity to play at some of the top universities including Harvard. In the culminating year of the team, both captains of the Lady Tigers were named Valedictorian and Salutatorian of their graduating class in 2018, thus ending an era of greatness.
Since then, I have been searching for a league that embodies the same ideals that I have implemented in my own program. Playing competitive sports has a transformative influence on young females which I have witnessed first hand throughout my years of coaching. Confidence surges with winning, of course, but losing may be even more impactful as it teaches strength through adversity. Working through struggles, continuing when it seems impossible and putting in the hard work to reach a goal are the experiences that build emotional strength. I found that there weren’t many leagues that embodied my same beliefs.
This is why I decided to be a part in creating The League for Fastpitch Softball. When approached to take part in creating something I could be proud of, my players and parents could be proud of and even all of New York City to be proud of, I jumped on board. With The League, you will be getting brilliant individuals dedicated to providing girls with structure and mentorship, as well as creating leaders in softball and in the community. I believe we at The League for Fastpitch Softball will not only provide these experiences but give young female athletes the tools required to continue their softball journey in college.