“It is a generational thing. My family, like a lot of families here, come together through sports.” – Muscogee (Creek) citizen Shirley (Lena) McBride
Sport lives through family
OKMULGEE, Okla. — Muscogee (Creek) citizen Shirley (Lena) McBride has been around softball her whole life.
She said she remembers playing as a child. Now she watches her grandchild play.
“It is great being able to see my kids and grandkids play this game,” McBride said.
McBride was born in Claremore, but grew up in Phoenix.
“It seems that I grew up on the ballfield,” McBride said. “My dad was a softball player out in Arizona.”
McBride said she lived in Arizona for about 14 years. After that her parents decided to move back to Oklahoma to be closer to her grandparents.
While in Arizona, McBride said she tried out for a women’s team when she was 11 years old.
“The ladies team was a semi-pro,” McBride said. “ They traveled all over. I remember being on the road a lot, going to our next game.”
She said she remembers being the youngest on the team.
“I played wherever they told me to,” McBride said. “I wanted to learn everything I could.”
She said that softball is in her blood and enjoys the competition. She played every chance she could get.
“I always looked forward to our games,” McBride said. “Then when that game was done I wanted to play again immediately.”
Eventually she slowed down on playing softball because she started a family, but the love for the game would not go away.
“My children played because their father played softball too,” McBride said. “Just like me, they grew up on the ballfield.”
McBride said she watched them play as much as she could. Now they have their own families and their children are playing.
“It is a generational thing,” she said. “My family, like a lot of families here, comes together through sports.”
She said she loves it when the festival comes around because she gets to see her family play as well as old friends and rivals.
“I have met people here because of the Festival or softball,” McBride said. “It is always great to see them and catch up on how they have been doing.”
She said there are relatives that play in the Festival and this might be the only time they get to see each other.
McBride said there are differences she sees when she watches softball compared to back in the day.
“One of the big differences is they have the uniforms and their gear,” McBride said. “When I played there were times we had to borrow from other people so we could get out there and play. Sometimes we had to borrow gloves or shoes.”
Another difference was the fields look a lot better.
“I remember a time when I was asked to play,” McBride said. “I thought we were going to Okmulgee or Henryetta, but we ended up playing a game in some pasture.”
While there are differences, she also sees similarities from when she played.
“The speed is about the same,” McBride said. “It is always fast pace when the ball is in play.”