HELENA — There is a world-class father-daughter bringing its love of softball to the diamond while helping to grow the sport for youth in the Capital City.
Addi Clark is a third grader at Montana City Schools and has been involved in the Helena Girls Softball Association since she was in kindergarten.
Her father, Workmosis Mustangs head coach Caleb Clark, was previously an assistant coach this HGSA, but this year he leads his daughter’s team, and it happens to be in the upper league.
“I think the biggest challenge is not being too hard on your kids because you know their capabilities, so it’s hard to take it as easy on them as you do with everyone else,” says Caleb Clark.
Originally, there were girls softball summer leagues in Helena as early as the 1950s, and the teams were comprised of girls in 1-8 grades. But here's the kicker: they pitched “a softball overhand.”
After this unique program went non-operational, girls softball in Helena disappeared for nearly 30 years until it was revitalized in 1990.
“I just think it’s important to be as much of a part of the kids lives as possible and try to set a positive example in the community,” added Caleb Clark.
The Helena Girls Softball Association is a volunteer led, non-profit organization that runs an instructional league for elementary through high school-aged girls to learn all facets of fastpitch softball.
Funds that are raised through sponsorships or player registration fees are used to purchase new equipment, uniforms and insurance for the players.
As a competitor in the minor’s league, Addi says her favorite color is green and she loves frogs as well as pitching from the circle, but she said she struggles playing the outfield because, “it’s boring.” There is a competitive element, which is secondary to the instructional components.
The Mustangs refer to the elder Clark as Coach Caleb, and he hopes to continue coaching all of his children in every sport that they choose to play. The entire HGSA league opened tournament play Monday at 6 p.m. at Ramey and Mihelish fields, and will continue those games through the end of this week.
Future proceeds will go towards paying for umpires and field maintenance, and the remainder of funds go to developing the sport of softball in the Helena area.
HGSA supports the Helena High Bengals, Capital High Bruins, and the East Helena High Vigilante school softball programs.
Additionally, the HGSA Rookies season will begin Monday, and Caleb Clark is planning to coach Addi for “as long as she wants to keep playing," he said.