MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series softball championship game set for Wednesday, the teams got one final chance to unwind at the closing banquet Tuesday night.
Between a commemorative video honoring those who have worked hard to make the program a success and handing out medals from the workout day, the participants of the 2013 RBI World Series spent their final night together, with a special appearance from the Commissioner of National Pro Fastpitch Cheri Kempf.
After her impressive resume was rattled off during her introduction -- a broadcast analyst for professional and college softball; a staple of ESPN's coverage of the NCAA Tournament and Women's College World Series; a pitcher on the 1992 USA National Team that earned gold in the World Cup in Beijing, China; a two-time Women's Majors National Softball champion and an inductee in three Halls of Fame -- Kempf shared her past with the girls, stressing to them the importance of finding a passion and working hard for it.
"You are capable, as capable as any other human being to do nearly anything -- to run a company, to design a spaceship, to lead military troops -- you name it," Kempf said.
"Find what you love and know that you have the tools to be great at it. Be great at it, whatever it is. And know that you are second to no one. In life, you are second to no one."
Kempf grew up in a small town in a blue-collar neighborhood. She was the lone girl in a group of 10 boys. The street was her football and baseball fields. Her catcher was a four-foot wall in front of her house. But her time there honed her ability to hustle, her agility, control and, of course, how to mouth off with the boys.
"I want you to understand that there was no magic dust in my house," Kempf said. "I did what I did and I got what I got because I loved it. And because I loved it, I wanted to be good at it. Each of you can do the same thing."
Kempf shared her story of passion for the game, but more than anything stressed to all the players present that they, too, can be successful at whatever their dreams may be -- they just have to go after them.
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com.