A trio of Lionette seniors collected valuable experience heading into the spring season as Raquel Novoa, and Joie and Kallie McCrary traveled to Puerto Rico as part of the Bone Collectors travel softball team for a week of intense training and playing nine softball games in three days against some tough competition.
"We were wore out at first, but when it came down to it, they dug down deep and pulled it out," Senior Kallie McCrary said. "They worked really hard to get where we were. We stuck it out in the long run, and we worked hard."
One of the teams, the Bone Collectors trained with and competed against was the Puerto Rico U19 national team headed by Jerry Flores. He coaches several teams there in many age divisions, so the trio agreed they were able to learn a lot in order to become better softball players individually and help the Lionettes this spring under a new head softball coach, which will be announced in the near future.
"They definitely pushed us to our limits every chance they got," Joie McCrary said. "We found out what real competition was over there, and we found out we had some new competition playing them. We worked harder than ever playing them. It was hard, but it was definitely fun. We found our new love for the game playing over there."
Another familiar face from the area was on the trip with the trio, the McCrary's father and head coach of Bone Collectors, Kevin McCrary. It was a plus for the three McCrary's to be together as Kevin continued to pass on his knowledge of softball not only to his daughters and the rest of the team.
"Playing for my dad can be frustrating, because he knows how hard we work and how hard we try," Kallie said. "He knows when we are being lazy, but he knows our limits, and he pushes us to those every single day. I am very thankful for that, because he makes us the ballplayers we are today."
Joie added, "I love playing for my dad more than I love anything. It is nice having someone supporting you and coaching you the way you need to be coached."
Besides the softball, the players got to have fun, too, while the United States territory. It is not every day, you play softball and then go to the beach to relax and wind down. The Bone Collectors got to do it along with visiting the other sites around the territory, which is about 1,000 miles southeast of Florida.
"We did a lot of things together as a team, and it was super exciting, even off the field," Novoa said. "It was a new experience being in a new place."
The team also visited the rain forest and some castles inside the country, while tasting some of the local food. The capital is San Juan, and they are United States citizens. So, you can go without a passport, but they cannot vote in the upcoming Presidential election. However, they do not have to pay federal income taxes.
The climate throughout the year is pretty comfortable, too, as highs are usually in the eighties every day, and at night in the seventies regardless of the season, and it never snows or frost. Puerto Rico was founded in 1493 by Christopher Columbus for Spain. The US got it in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, and it became a commonwealth in 1952.
As for the trio, who was very close before the trip, this event gave them a chance to grow in their friendship, while learning new lessons and skills, which they will carry over to the Lionettes softball season this spring.
"It was way more fun with them," Kallie McCrary said. "We had a bond going into it, and us being on the field made it so much more fun, because we could actually talk and bond on the field. It made us grow stronger and being able to share that connection and grow as a team with everybody else With us being seniors this year, I think it is going to help us lead the team better, and help us train harder this year. With us leading the team, and knowing how they train down there. It is going to help us grow better as a team.
Novoa added, "The training helped a lot, it helped me personally gain a lot of new skills and it taught us a lot of new things. I hope to keep working on those things and use it in our softball season."