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Michelle Lewis is having a ball getting ready for baseball season. As a rookie ballgirl for the Philadelphia Phillies, Lewis is looking forward to whatever her new job will throw at her.
“Being a ballgirl isn’t just about being on the field,” said Lewis. “We are ambassadors for the Phillies, and our job is to be role models for young women in sports.”
For Lewis, a varsity athlete and IU freshman majoring in athletic training, a stint as a ballgirl seems only natural.
“I’ve been playing softball for about 14 years,” said Lewis. “I’ve always been into sports. I grew up with a bunch of boys and I played soccer, basketball, did gymnastics and tae kwon do, but the one that stuck with me was softball.”
According to Lewis, softball “wasn’t just a hobby to me—it became my life.” When she learned that the Phillies were advertising for ballgirls, she thought, “Why not? I’ll give it a shot. I never thought in a million years that I would be picked out of hundreds of other girls.”
The selection process began by submitting a two-minute video explaining why she wanted to be a Phillies Ballgirl and what her softball experience and abilities were. “I didn’t hear anything for about two months,” said Lewis, who eventually received an e-mail inviting her to the tryouts at Citizens Bank Park.
“We had to hit, field, run, and do on-camera interviews,” said Lewis. “It was nerve-wracking! I am completely camera-shy, but I wanted this so badly I didn’t care.”
Lewis was told that the competition would be narrowed again, and she would have to wait to hear if she made the cut to round two. A week or so later, Lewis learned that she indeed had made it to the next level, which consisted of one-on-one interviews.
“We were told this was the last round,” said Lewis, “and that decisions would be made within a month.”
A month went by, then a few more weeks, and Lewis admitted to “getting so antsy.” Finally she received the phone call she had been waiting for. “When they told me I got it, my first reaction was, ‘Really?’ I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited I called all of my family and friends.”
After completing a photo shoot for their very own Phillies Ballgirls baseball cards, Lewis and her fellow rookies will go through training before ever getting out onto the field.
“We have to sit in the stands with a veteran ballgirl,” she said, “and they go through with us what to do and what not to do. Eventually we get on the field for a few innings. As you go on you get put in for more innings until they feel comfortable that you can be by yourself out there.”
But being a Phillies Ballgirl isn’t just about fielding foul balls. Lewis will be required to make numerous appearances outside of regular season games including school, hospital and nursing home visits; playing in golf, bowling and softball tournaments (most of which have a charitable component); participating in fashion shows, and representing the team at various community events. In 2008, the Phillies became the first Major League Baseball team to join the EPA’s Green Power Partnership (GPP) program, and the ballgirls are involved in those environmentally friendly initiatives, as well as projects sponsored by the area’s Habitat for Humanity.
Though Lewis can’t say yet what her favorite ballgirl duties will be, she confessed that she is “really looking forward to the charity softball tournaments that we’re going to play, as well as being on the field watching my favorite team play baseball.”
In addition to her academic and athletic responsibilities, Lewis works on the front-end management team at Wegmans and also loves to make music. “I play the violin, the piano, and a little bit of guitar,” she said. “I know I have a full plate, but I hope to be able to balance everything and just have a good time doing it.”