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For years, Larry Rorrer of Eden was an umpire/referee for football, basketball, baseball and softball, but softball was his favorite sport to call.
“On many occasions, Larry talked to me about this dream of starting his own softball association for travel ball,” said Larry’s wife, Kristie Rorrer. “He had a friend, Tim Doby, from Carthage, N.C., that knew the ins and outs of travel ball, and the possibility started to become a reality.”
The three sat down at a kitchen table in Eden on a Monday morning in July 2013, and Got Game Fastpitch was born.
A female travel-ball fastpitch-softball association, Got Game is owned by Larry and Kristie, and Doby serves as director of operations.
Got Game holds tournaments March through November across North Carolina and Virginia for 10U-18U.
“The concept was to offer a family atmosphere for all teams, and our goal is to respect not only the game but everyone involved,” Rorrer said. “We have met so many people and made many new friends.”
Got Game has grown quickly.
“During 2013, we only played two weekends a month, but it became evident pretty quickly that there was more demand for us to play every weekend, so now we play mid-March through the weekend before Thanksgiving,” Doby said.
They make sure they have a director at every park holding a tournament to handle any issues that arise and keep games running smoothly.
“Our directors share a love for the game and have all been involved in softball one way or another,” Rorrer said. “They played, coached, umpired or had a child play.”
Got Game holds devotions for teams on Sundays at tournament sites. While devotions are not mandatory for teams, no warm-ups or softball activity is allowed during them.
“We partner with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) to hold devotions, and if no one is available, an umpire, coach, parent or a player will lead them,” Rorrer said.
Got Game Fastpitch also holds the annual Florida State/Taylor Foster Softball Camp 7 each July. Florida State head softball coach Lonni Alameda leads the camp, named for softball player Taylor Foster who wore jersey number 7 and played with Got Game.
Foster, a McLeansville native, died in April 2014 at age 17 after a four-year battle with bone cancer. A die-hard FSU softball fan, Taylor was “adopted” by the FSU softball organization. Coach Alameda also came up with seven core values that she promotes at the camp: communication, trust, discipline, fun, respect, fundamentals and teamwork.
“We all came up with the idea for the camp in order to continue to celebrate the life of Taylor Foster and create an opportunity to share with striving softball athletes that there is another side to sport with the core values that we are wanting to focus on, like fun,” Alameda said. “Taylor was always so thankful for the game and the fun she had with people and softball.”
Participation in the camp has grown each year, with this year Got Game having to turn attendees away, probably thanks to Florida State winning the National Softball Championship.
“Larry and I watched the game on TV and were so excited to see them take the win,” Rorrer said.
One hundred fifty girls participated in the two-day camp this year, and more than 40 participated in an evening session. Got Game plans to increase the number of girls accepted to the camp to 200 for next year. A Got Game scholarship was also started in honor of Foster. With proceeds from holding the camp this year, Got Game was able to make a $1,000 donation to the pediatric and oncology program at Brenner Children’s Hospital, as well as help fund the Edward Jones/Got Game/Taylor Foster Scholarship.
“It’s so worth it for the girls to come meet Coach and listen to her wisdom and witness her attitude and love towards softball,” Rorrer said of Alameda’s participation in the camp. “She is so down to earth.”
Alameda usually brings a couple of her players and staff members each year to help with the camp. Staff from a few other colleges, like UNC-Greensboro, Boston College and Liberty University helped this year, as well.
“The kids were so excited this year that they got to meet someone who had been on TV,” Alameda said. “Last year, (FSU player) Jessie Warren came to the TF7 camp, and most were talking about her catch in the Women’s College World Series.”
Alameda hopes the girls who come to the camp see that there’s more to the game of softball than just the outcome.
“We all can learn about ourselves throughout the ups and downs of sport,” she said.
Alameda also praises Got Game and their work for girls.
“I have a special place in my heart for people who see opportunity to grow community and give back in many ways, and that is what Got Game and Larry and Kristie have been all about,” she said. “Such amazing people.”
Got Game Fastpitch also is affiliated with USA Softball of North Carolina and hosted the state tournaments this year. They have tournaments scheduled through November in North Carolina and Virginia.
Doby thinks participating in an organized sport like fastpitch softball is good for girls.
“The self esteem of many young people in our country is very low, and being part of a team and a family helps foster more confidence and well-rounded kids,” he said. “We try to be a small part of the solution to that problem.”
“As for our future, the goal is to continue to promote honesty, fairness, fellowship and friendly competition and to support female athletes to reach their full potential,” Rorrer said. “Tim came up with our slogan, ‘Got Game Nation,’ because we want all our families to feel they are part of this organization.”
Jennifer Atkins Brown writes every other Sunday for this section. Contact her at email@example.com.
Inspirational camp: NCAA softball champion Seminoles embrace relationships with area family
By Jerome Richard / Times-News correspondent
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at 10:56 PM
John Turner choked up talking about Taylor Foster. Macey Cheatham credited Foster with changing her life.
Lonni Alameda, coach of the newly crowned NCAA softball champion Florida State Seminoles, keeps returning to Burlington because of Foster.
Foster was one of those rare people whose spirit, charisma and struggle captivated and inspired people, not only while living but long after. Foster still elicited emotional responses four years after dying April 27, 2014.
“She changed my life,” said Cheatham, a catcher for the Seminoles from 2012-16.
Cheatham explained Foster’s impact Monday during a break from coaching at the Got Game Camp 7 softball camp at Burlington’s Springwood Park. It’s an annual event in memory of Foster, a passionate softball player whose playing days were cut short by osteosarcoma bone cancer at the age of 17.
Foster loved to play softball and was a huge fan of the Seminoles, hoping to one day play at the school. Alameda learned of the Brown’s Summit teenager’s plight and her passion for Florida State softball through various connections.
Alameda called Foster, who thought it was a prank call, and later visited her at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem to celebrate Foster’s 16th birthday. During that visit the Florida State players face-timed and sang Happy Birthday to Foster.
Thus, an enduring relationship began between the Seminoles and Foster and her family.
“I think any coach has a responsibility to those who dream of playing college softball to help those people achieve their dream,” Alameda said, taking a break from coaching at this week’s Camp 7. “I knew Taylor couldn’t play softball and was coaching, so I wanted to keep her spirits up.”
At the time of Alameda’s visit, Foster was helping Turner coach a recreational softball team and later helped him with a travel squad. One of the travel teams, Got Game, suggested a benefit tournament and also started Taylor Foster Scholarship Fund.
“Her drive and ability to talk to people made her special,” Turner said. “The kids she talked to were 14, 15 years old, around her age, and she connected with them. It was a spiritual, personality and age thing.”
Foster had a way of connecting with people despite the pain caused by her disease.
“Taylor was one of those people you meet and instantly click with,” said Cheatham, who first met Foster in 2013 at a game in Atlanta. “She is someone I wanted in my life. She taught us that there is so much that is bigger than ourselves. She taught us to help others, create change and that there was more than just playing softball.”
Wendy Foster, Taylor’s mom, said, “I think God put Taylor and Macey together along with that entire team.”
Alameda has a reputation for more than just teaching softball.
“I tell my players when they think things are tough or they are hot and tired, hey, we are just playing softball,” she said. “When you see someone fighting for their life in a hospital bed, yeah, it’s hot on the field, no not really, we’re just playing softball. It puts what we do in perspective.
“It’s a chance for us as a program to recognize all the people who love the game and don’t have the opportunity to play … for us to realize there is no reason to feel bad.”
The relationship between Alameda and her Florida State program and the Foster family is more than a high-profile coach taking a photo with a youngster in a hospital bed and then moving on. It’s one that has endured and strengthened, and one that Florida State softball players still buy into.
“We’ll still talk about Taylor years later,” Alameda said. “We want to keep her spirit alive. She taught us lessons that keep us grounded.”
There were numerous times when Taylor Foster sat in the Florida State dugout, especially at games involving nearby schools such as North Carolina or North Carolina State. If the team was in the area and Foster couldn’t attend a game, the Seminoles came to her house.
There were chats and photographs sent about prom dresses, hair styles and what to wear to certain events. The Foster’s dog was named Noles during a team visit to the Foster home.
Delaney Foster was 11 years old when her sister Taylor died. She gave up softball after Taylor’s death and has had a hard time dealing with the passing of the sibling who “always had my back.” The rising junior at Northeast Guilford would like to attend Florida State after graduation. She’ll know at least one person on the Tallahassee campus.
“I just call her ‘Coach,’ ” Delaney, 16, said of Alameda. “She is so caring. She takes people under her wing that she doesn’t know, and that takes courage. She’s amazing.”
Wendy Foster called the Florida State players her daughter’s sounding board and one reason Taylor was able to keep death at bay for as long as she did.
“I always wondered if Taylor would make it as far as she did without (Florida State players),” Foster said. “She pushed herself to see those girls. They gave her the will to live.”
Taylor Foster wore No. 7 as a softball player. It plays a role in her connection with the Florida State softball program. Consider the following:
• The Seminoles won this year’s Women’s College World Series in their seventh game of the event.
• The game started at 7 p.m.
• It was the Seminoles’ 70th game of the season.
• TF 7 is carved into the gate to the Florida State softball field
• Macey Cheatham and several Florida State players have a VII tattooed on the wrists.
• Florida State let Oregon use its bus at the Women’s College World Series and an Oregon player left a No. 7 jersey in the bus.
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