On March 10, freshman public relations major Marissa Dowdy left her dorm room at 8 a.m. and headed to Citizens Bank Park to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a Philadelphia Phillies ballgirl. But she almost didn’t go through with it.
“I kind of thought about it and was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do it. I don’t know if they’d pick me,’” Dowdy said.
During home games, the ballgirls field foul balls. Off the field, they appear at more than 150 events — like media engagements, visits to Philadelphia schools and nursing homes — during the year. They also do social media outreach and post regularly about their experiences at Phillies events to the blog “Down the Line.”
The 2017 tryouts began on March 1, when applicants had to submit videos that explained why they wanted to be ballgirls and showed their softball skills. Girls from this pool of applicants were chosen to attend the tryout on March 10, which consisted of fielding, hitting, a Phillies quiz and a two-minute interview. Those chosen to be a ballgirl will be notified by the Phillies’ home opener against the Washington Nationals on Friday.
Dowdy was joined at the tryouts by six other Temple students: Kaitlyn Brannigan, Mairead Denton, Ashley George, Madison Lee, Marissa Pirritano and Rachel Wisniewski.
Dowdy said she has wanted to be a ballgirl since she was 8 years old and saw them at Phillies games. If she gets a spot, she hopes to excite and interact with the next generation of fans, she said.
Dowdy added that she was drawn to the ballgirls’ community outreach, since she volunteers for organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises money and awareness for childhood cancers.
Wisniewski, a junior marketing major, said her mother, father and two brothers — all lifelong Phillies fans — encouraged her to try out.
“After I was like, ‘I’m going to try out’ … my brother would send me texts every day like, ‘Quick: what’s the lineup?’ or ‘Quick: tell me this random Phillies fact,’” Wisniewski said. “They were just very supportive, and I know they want me to get it almost as much as I do.”
Lee, who grew up in Connecticut, hasn’t always been a Phillies fan. Instead, she grew up rooting for the New York Yankees.
But the freshman sport and recreation management major decided to try out because she wanted to continue playing softball — which she started at 5 years old. Lee couldn’t play at the Division I level at Temple since its team was cut in 2014.
“I’m OK if I don’t make the team, because this is a dream that some of the girls have had for a long time,” Lee said. “But this is a young dream for me.”
Lee said she likes the Phillies’ environmental initiatives. The Phillies were the first Major League Baseball team to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership program, which encourages the use of renewable electricity across the United States. The ballgirls also lead the organization’s Red Goes Green Team and collect recyclable materials in the stadium during home games.
Lee said the tryouts were “intense,” but it was fun meeting aspiring and current ballgirls. Dowdy agreed that the tryouts were nerve-racking, but her experiences at Temple so far have made her more confident, she said.
“[If] I had the opportunity to [try out] last year, I do not think I would’ve been able to,” Dowdy said. “I definitely had way too much fear and was not that able to make small talk or put myself out there.”
Wisniewski is already looking forwarding to taking on the responsibilities of a Phillies ballgirl.
“That first game experience on the field … it would just be so surreal,” she said. “I can’t even put it into words.”
Alexis Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.