The Los Gatos-Cupertino-Saratoga (LGCS) Girls Softball Association is celebrating a milestone this season in its 30th year of existence.
To mark the occasion, the program’s premier fundraising event of 2023, Decades of Magic, will be held at the La Rinconada Country Club from 6-10pm on April 28. Tickets are $150 and includes food, drinks, entertainment and a silent and live auction.
All proceeds go to equipment, fields and the continued sustainability of the league in a greater San Jose metro area that is home to dozens of travel organizations. In celebrating current and past players, coaches, board members and supporters of the program, the event is also vital in promoting awareness of the league locally.
“This gala for us is really multifaceted,” LGCS President Nico Avlas said. “We’re seeing a lot of new entrants into the sport after Covid, and our league has a lot of exposure in Los Gatos and is rising in Saratoga and Cupertino. We’re really trying to spread the word that softball is in these communities, and girls aged 5-12 should come out and play spring, summer and fall seasons.”
LGCS has an interesting back story. In 1992, a group of parents who ran the softball division of Los Gatos Little League decided it was time to break away and move under the umbrella of the American Softball Association (ASA).
LGCS Fastpitch Softball was formed in December of that year and in the spring of 1993 they had 300-plus registrants combined for the rec league and the program’s first-ever ASA travel team, the Magic. LGCS has a spring rec ball season at the 6-and-under, 8U, 10U and 12U age divisions.
From the spring ball season, the Magic teams are assembled for the more competitive summer travel season. Lisa Strauss and Kelly Vincelette are original Magic players and now serve as coaches and members of the LGCS board.
In a neat twist, both of their fathers serve as assistant coaches for their respective teams. Strauss’ father, Bernard Greenfield, was the first president of the league. Strauss and Vincelette said the move to break away from Los Gatos Little League three decades ago had a lot to do with equity.
“Fighting for field time [with the baseball teams] was the big sticking point 30 years ago,” Strauss said. “That’s why the group wanted to go off on their own. The parents wanted to focus on the girls league and they needed that autonomy. It made a bunch of sense. The Little League fields are beautiful in Los Gatos, but it’s just not there for softball.”
LGCS uses fields at Blossom Hill Elementary School, Foothill Elementary in Saratoga, Monta Vista Park in Cupertino and Cupertino Memorial Park. For Vincelette, raising money and receiving support from the community sends a message and represents something greater.
“One of the things my daughter asks me is why are the fields so much nicer for the boys,” Vincelette said. “And this is the first time I think the league has a real opportunity to raise money to make girls feel as special as the boys. They see it, they recognize it out there, and there’s still some things even for children we’re not doing equally and this is an opportunity to raise money for batting cages and making the fields nicer, which really affects girls not only in the short term playing but in the long term as they stand up as adults in the business world and other areas. That’s the biggest thing for me. I think this is a real opportunity for the community to stand up and support the league in a new way.”
LGCS is aiming to get batting cages installed at Foothill Elementary. Strauss and Vincelette said the late Charles Erekson was instrumental in the program joining ASA, and commended Avlas for his tireless dedication in helping update the fields as he looks to lead the organization into its next phase.
During the Decades of Magic event, the founders and leaders of the league will be recognized, and Avlas will talk about the state of the program and the future vision of the program.
A live and silent auction will feature such prizes as a trip to Cabo San Lucas and a lobster feed, among other things. The event is extremely important for Magic softball because fundraising is the lifeblood of any youth organization. LGCS has a goal to make its facilities top-notch and that takes a lot of time and resources.
“Our mission here is to really focus on elevating our infrastructure,” Avlas said. “Anything from the bleachers to the snack shack to the on-field equipment, updating the bleachers, to normalizing the competitive [aspects] of our league vs. other leagues in the area.”
Community support has come in the way of sponsors and ingenuity from examples such as Saratoga High junior Caitlin Weber, who led a project to renovate the snack shack at Foothill to fulfill a requirement for earning her Eagle Scout Badge.
For LGCS, there is a particular urgency to get things done.
“There are a lot of travel teams in the area and it got so wildly popular that we have to really step it up with the infrastructure and plan for the next 30 years,” Strauss said. “The time is now.”
Note: More information can be found at www.lgcsfastpitch.org.