Voted by the Philadelphia public to be a Philadelphia Phillies Ballgirl Kami Mattioli,
a Temple junior, roots for the home team.
As the Philadelphia Phillies’ Ballgirls walk down the long, red hallway and listen to the sounds of screaming fans, it’s apparent this position comes with a ton of excitement.
The ballgirls head past the locker rooms and up the steps to the field, as they prepare for pregame introductions on the Phan-o-Vision, the singing of the national anthem and, for some of the girls, their first time stepping onto that gorgeous green grass.
Not just any ordinary Phillies fan, 21-year-old Kami Mattioli, a junior criminal justice major, is one of the ultimate fans who gets to spend her entire summer at the ballpark. This year, the Wayne, Pa., native will join a crew of 16 other Phillies Ballgirls, but she’s no stranger to the baseball diamond.
“I’ve been playing [softball] nearly my entire life,” Mattioli said, adding that she’s been competing in the sport since age 5. “I actually skipped over tee-ball and went right to softball.”
After moving up the ranks of her teams, Mattioli played for three organizations simultaneously in middle school. In high school at Radnar High School she was a starting shortstop for the varsity team for four years, and a captain for two.
After an extensive training period, two of the ballgirls are assigned to the foul lines for the duration of the game. Rookies like Mattioli are still working toward that position, although she and the others are well prepared.
Other girls are assigned to the Green Team, which organizes groups of people to collect recyclable bottles and cans throughout the game to support the Phillies’ Red Goes Green campaign.
Although the ballgirls are often mistaken as cheerleaders, their role is different. While there is no physical cheering involved, the girls are some of the team’s biggest fans.
“It’s great to be a rookie with Kami because she keeps you laughing by finding humor in the little things, even if it’s at her own expense,” Patricia Basenfelder, a fellow rookie ballgirl, said.
In person, Mattioli glows, clad in her pinstripe jersey, matching shorts and bright-red Under Armour. With a smile across her face, Mattioli said she is thrilled to be part of something special in Philadelphia.
“I’m really just excited to see where the season goes,” Mattioli said. “The Phillies seem poised to do really well this year, and I’m just along for the ride.”
Mattioli is the first ballgirl to have been voted onto the team by the public. Five rounds of voting led to the team’s eventual acceptance of Mattioli to the team, she said.
The applicants submitted a résumé, cover letter and video to explain why they would be a good fit for the job. Out of 1,600 girls who applied, 100 were selected for the next round, which included a media interview, Phillies-knowledge test and softball-skills tryout.
Then, Michele DeVicaris, Phillies community and charity events manager, helped select the 10 most-promising applicants for a new online voting competition. Mattioli was chosen from the final group of 10 girls, with a total of approximately 25,000 out of 66,000 votes.
“We feel that the Phillies ballgirls serve as great ambassadors for women, the city of Philadelphia and the sport of baseball,” DeVicaris said. “They are tremendous role models for young girls interested in our sport … We are very proud of their community involvement.”
Ballgirl captain Lindsay Shaw said she’s pleased with Mattioli’s contribution to the team.
“Though she may have been the last one in, I was immediately impressed with her softball skills, her witty one-liners and the fact that she is quick with her camera,” Shaw said.
Catching foul balls at Citizens Bank Park is the girls’ biggest challenge, Shaw said. The girls also sell raffle tickets for Phillies charities and hand out their own trading cards inside the stadium.
However, the majority of the girls’ time is spent off the field, as they are active in the community. The girls go to Little League opening ceremonies, radio talk shows and charity softball games.
The interaction between the girls is dynamic within this diverse group. They’re supportive of one another and never fail to stop to hug each other before they change positions on the field or to high-five as they pass in the stadium.
“She took initiative to open herself up and get to know all the ballgirls from the start and didn’t let shyness get in the way,” McKenzie Myers, a veteran ballgirl, said.
Aside from her Phillies cap, Mattioli dons quite a few hats. She interns at the District Attorney’s office, and after graduation, she plans to go to law school.
She said she wants to focus on criminal law and hopes to become a district attorney.
“I have always been fascinated by the legal system and its opportunities to put my analytical and critical writing skills to work,” she said.
The girls don’t seem to believe that being a ballgirl has any downsides. They meet thousands of Phillies fans and attend as many Phillies games as they want.
“Hopefully,” she said, “come October, I’ll be riding on a float down Broad Street celebrating another World Series victory.”
Rachael Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.