CLEARWATER, Fla. — Michele Smith once threw a softball 74 mph.
If you didn't know, that is really fast.
The fearsome southpaw star threw softballs that quickly in her Olympic days in the late ‘90s when she led Team USA to two gold medals.
Smith is throwing a bit slower on a softball field in Clearwater these days. The main reason is because the catchers squatting behind the plate are just one-third the legend’s size.
“I want to be just like her,” says Emma, one of the starstruck girls playing with Smith.
Smith was inducted into the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1996. She now works as a commentator for ESPN. Helping kids is also one of her passions.
Smith is board member for Clearwater for Youth, a non-profit organization hosting and funding programs so thousands of children, no matter their financial situation, have a chance to play sports. She brings starpower and smarts to the job.
“I’m giving back, that’s what Clearwater for Youth is all about,” says Smith, who lives nearby in Treasure Island. “Making sure every child has the opportunity to play sports no matter what their situation is. When you support kids, and give them life lessons on the field, they become great adults.”
Smith also hits the softball field with local girls when she has the time. She teaches what it takes to succeed on the field and lets them know that hard work, no matter what you are doing, is just as important as talent.
“I didn’t win two Olympic gold medals by just laying in bed,” she says. “I worked really hard for those gold medals.”
For more information on Clearwater for Youth, visit www.clearwaterforyouth.org.