OVEIDO, Fla. - Some girls who won a softball championship say they deserved individual trophies, just like the boys received. Instead, they got a gift bag.
Oviedo girl's softball players were jumping for joy after winning the Florida Babe Ruth State Championship. But afterward, that wasn’t the case.
"Upset," is how 7-year-old Kalei Esperas describes how she feels before breaking out in tears. "The boys got trophies and medals and the girls got nothing."
Tyler Spigner, 8, shows us what was inside the black drawstring bag that they received instead.
"I got a ball."
That’s right, a ball, as well as a bag tag.
"The girls just didn’t get treated right. They didn’t get treated the same way as the boys," explains Jordan Spigner.
He is Tyler’s father as well as the coach of the team. He says the boys were treated much differently, saying they all pay the same amount of money to play.
"Not only did they get trophies, they got these big nice medals, they got commemorative baseball bats. I’m just curious as to why the girls were not taken care of with the same respect."
We reached out for answers. The Florida Babe Ruth State Softball commissioner Doug Robinson released a statement saying in part, " Our intention was to provide the players with the recognition they deserve and a lasting keepsake of the tournament."
He says the items were year-specific and identified champions and runners-up.
Kalei's mother, Kelly Esperas, says," I think it’s unfair. They won their districts, they won their states, they deserve exactly what the boys got."
Spigner says, "As of right now we’re not coming back."
The coach says the Oviedo league plans to meet tomorrow night to discuss their options.
Florida Babe Ruth State Softball Commissioner Doug Robinson sent a statement:
Our intention was to provide the players with the recognition they deserve and a lasting keepsake of the tournament and their team’s success. The Bat Bag Tag was presented as an option and meant to be displayed on the player’s Bat Bag for all to see at future events. We decided to go with this option as an alternative to the generic medallion given as the Individual Award in the past for several reasons:
- It was tournament & year specific
- Has a full-color print of the tournament logo and identified "Champions" & "Runner Up"
- Would provide continued recognition of the player’s team's success beyond the pictures taken at the award ceremony following the Championship game.
- The Commemorative Tournament Ball was intended to be a lasting keepsake from this year’s tournament. We felt that this would be more meaningful to the player in the years to come as compared to the generic medallion awarded in the past. Many of the Champion & Runner Up teams had teammates, coaches and in some cases, tournament officials & umpires sign them or add a message about the tournament, which no doubt will provide a lasting memory of their accomplishment.
All Champions & Runner Ups in every division received the following:
- 12 x 15 State Champion plaque / 10 ½ x 12 State Runner Up plaque (see attached pic)
- Champions also received a full-color State Champion banner (see attached pic)
All players received the following:
- 12" Commemorative Softball with full-color laser print of the State Tournament Logo (see attached pic) – Alternate to generic medallion
- Full-Color Bat Bag Tag with Tournament Logo indicating "Champions" or "Runner Up" (see attached pic) – Alternate to generic medallion
- Black Draw Bag w/ front zipper pocket and inside Velcro pocket (see attached pic) (https://www.hitpromo.net/product/show/3082/big-muscle-sports-pack/BLK/ )
In addition to the above-listed awards, several division Champions were awarded the following:
- 10U Elite Division – All players received a Rip It brand Bat Bag (provided by Rip It specifically for this Division)
- 12U Elite Division - All players received a Rip It brand Bat Bag (provided by Rip It specifically for this Division - see pic)
- 14U Elite Division - All players received a Rip It brand Bat Bag (provided by Rip It specifically for this Division)
These bat bags were a surprise to the Tournament staff and were delivered on Friday by the onsite BSN representatives, Babe Ruth League’s National Partner for sporting goods.
- 6U Elite Division – All players received a pair of Rip It batting gloves (again provided by BSN and specifically for the youngest Division)