VERO BEACH -- The chance to help girls realize the opportunities they have through baseball is why Veronica Alvarez coaches.
“A big factor in my life is finding your ‘why,’ which gives you more purpose in everything you do,” Alvarez said. “My ‘why’ is to open doors for girls and women in the game that didn’t know there was an opportunity for it.”
Alvarez has gotten the chance to further fulfill her ‘why’ as an instructor at the inaugural Girls Baseball Elite Development Invitational at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla.
Alvarez is the manager of the US women’s national baseball team. She has also been an instructor at the MLB Trailblazer Series since it began in 2017. The Trailblazer Series is one of Alvarez’s favorites, because for most of the girls, it’s their first time getting to play baseball with other girls.
“It’s a moment where they don’t have to focus on their gender,” Alvarez said. “It’s just about baseball and being baseball players. It’s not about being the girl on the team, which is something a lot of them face.”
Along with the Trailblazer Series, the Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series has also helped pave the way for girls to play at the next level.
One of those girls, Alexia Jorge, plays for Alvarez on the WNT. She became the first girl to play baseball at Saint Elizabeth University in New Jersey. Jorge, who is heading into her sophomore season, participated in the Breakthrough Series and noted the impact development events had on her.
“These events have gotten me to where I am today,” Jorge said. “I think without them, I wouldn’t be playing college baseball. I wouldn’t be playing for the national team. They help you meet the coaches, learn new things, learn what you can improve on and how you can get better.”
Three girls participating in EDI and who hope to follow in Jorge’s footsteps are Elise Berger, Aiyana Curry and Lily Woodworth.
Berger primarily pitches and plays shortstop. The Shelbourne, Vt., native previously participated in the Trailblazer Series, noting that the biggest difference is how she feels much more comfortable at EDI.
With the opportunity to be around girls who are at the level she hopes to reach, Berger has made connections and learned more about the recruiting process.
“It’s been really cool and inspirational to learn from the women in these higher positions in baseball,” Berger said. “The women I look up to and aspire to be in their positions. They’ve been good to talk to, and I aspire to play college baseball.”
Curry plays middle infield and spends some time at third base and outfield. She has been on the diamond since she was 4 years old. When the opportunity arose to participate in the girls baseball EDI, it was a no-brainer for Curry.
“Anything that says baseball, I’m interested in already,” Curry said. “I’m just so excited to be here with everyone else, knowing that other people could do what I do and other people are interested in moving to the next level. It’s such a great experience to learn from everyone.”
Woodworth plays shortstop and has participated in the Trailblazer Series. She noted that the biggest difference between EDI and Trailblazer is the latter focuses more on meeting people, while EDI is more devoted to preparing for the next level.
With the guidance she’s been given at EDI, Woodworth hopes to one day play for Alvarez and collegiately.
“Making the national team would be a huge accomplishment,” Woodworth said. “I definitely see that in my future potentially if I work really hard. So that’s a possibility as well that could help with playing college baseball or anything like that.”
With many of the girls who participate in EDI setting their sights on playing college baseball, Alvarez has helped prepare them for the recruiting process. She also vouches for them to college coaches, letting them know they’ve all had to overcome adversity to get where they are now.
“Every single one of these girls that plays baseball has been asked to switch to softball,” Alvarez said. “There’s something I tell all these college coaches when they call me. It’s, 'If you choose these girls, I’m promising you’re gonna get a girl that’s been through some adversity. And she’s gonna come out on top because she’s determined to play this game and she’s determined to have success in this game.'”