Living in a foreign country, everything can feel a bit alien at times – especially when the sports are completely different to the ones you are used to. When Kurt vom Scheidt, a New Yorker, first moved to Denmark, he was missing his favourite sport: baseball.
That was until he discovered a little slice of Americana right here – at Gladsaxe Softball and Baseball Klub.
Vom Scheidt now coaches the under-12s side, who took second place at the national indoor ‘DM’ tournament in autumn, while the club’s undefeated under-15s went one better and claimed the national title.
While the club members vary in ability, Gladsaxe is home to some of the country’s best junior players – eight of whom were selected for the Danish national team, which will travel to Argentina to compete over the summer.
Though the club has enjoyed a high level of success, Vom Scheidt says their main aim is to introduce people to a sport that is lesser known in Denmark and to teach young players how to work in a team.
“Softball is a fantastic game that encourages individual achievement, but never ahead of the team,” he said. “It’s like any sport: it’s healthy and it prepares you for what you need to do later in life. It helps us to recognise our strengths and weaknesses and learn to get along together.”
One example of the team spirit is that batters will often ‘sacrifice’ a big slog to make sure one of their teammates advances to the next base. Vom Scheidt says this play normally results in the batter getting out for the sake of a teammate.
“This is part of the DNA of the game and just exemplifies the fact that no one player is above the team and that everybody must always do their part for the team to perform optimally,” he said. “A solid lesson and foundation for life I think.”
Though the sport is one of the most popular in the United States, Vom Scheidt’s son Mitchell is the closest to an American playing in the under-12s team – and Mitchell has never even set foot there.
Vom Scheidt said it had been fun teaching Mitchell about American culture through the sport. He was also satisfied to see his son’s television taste develop from watching cartoons to watching baseball.
“Now we freeze it, watch it in slow motion and talk about it. He’s not into the stats yet though – he hasn’t quite graduated to that.”
Half of the members at Gladsaxe are Danish and half are foreigners living in Denmark. Vom Scheidt said anyone could play, given they have sufficient hand-eye co-ordination, and many of the foreign players come with some prior cricket or rounders experience, which follow some of the same principles.
There is a T-ball competition, as well as under-12s, under-15s and under-19s softball teams, and Vom Scheidt said they try to rotate the pitch as much as possible to enable all players a fair go.
But with ladies and men’s teams, and a Friday night social slow-pitch competition, the adults can also get involved.
The club has all the necessary gear, including bats, helmets and gloves, and anyone interested can come along to training at Isbanevej, close to Gladsaxe Stadion, up to three times before they commit to playing for the whole season. The action continues in the winter when the competition moves inside.