WHEAT RIDGE HISTORY
When writing about Wheat Ridge Girls' Softball, it can't be done without including Betty Day who had been involved for 42 years in every aspect of softball. When you think of softball in Wheat Ridge, you think of her. She retired as President of our organization in 1999 and we lost her in 2011. She had a great love for the sport.
In 1952, Wheat Ridge Girls' Softball Assn. was one of four areas to provide a softball program for young ladies. Three individuals from Wheat Ridge -- Lydia Wright, H.M. Townsend and R. E. Jensen along with Fred Rockwell of Alameda and Martha Carra of Golden initiated a girls' softball program which eventually became the Girls' Softball League of Jefferson County. Wheat Ridge had 5 teams (75 girls) who played 31 games for which umpires were furnished with each team paying $2 per game. Their home games were played on the fields at 43rd & Gray and 43rd and Fenton Streets.
The initial funding was from the Wheat Ridge Youth Council and eventually monies came from the Community Chest, business sponsorship and registration fees. When reporting on the 1st season, Mr. Jensen wrote to Mr. Townsend, "I am sure that a program with keen interest and keen competition will be reflected in the Chest drive this fall since it brings more people to realize the benefit of the Chest funds."
While Mr. Townsend and Mr. Jenson organized the fields, game schedule, umpire, and equipment, Lydia Wright worked with the coaches and players. She coached a group of 14-15 year old girls for 2 years and then she made herself available to coaches and players for training necessary to make a team successful. Lydia loved teaching the midgets. She would coach the same group of girls for three years and then go back and start another team of midgets. She never had daughters of her own -- by the time she became involved in girls' softball, her son's were grown.
Lydia Wright and Betty Day
In the beginning when parents drove their daughters to their 1st practice probably at Stites Park at 29th and Newland St., they would meet two women who were working with the girls. They were not the coaches -- they would start the 9-year old teams before turning them over to the coaches. These ladies were Lydia Wright and Betty Day.
Betty and Lydia's 30 year friendship began when Betty, looking for softball information, stopped at a field where Lydia was practicing with a group of girls. Eventually, Betty’s older daughter played on Lydia's team and Betty started her own team with her youngest daughter. Her team was "Our Hobby Tomatoes" and went on to win several championships through the years. Betty & Lydia worked together on and off the field until Lydia's death in 1987.
Lydia and Betty traded responsibilities to Wheat Ridge and the county -- representing Wheat Ridge as President and/or representative to the county organization. They handled registration, recruitment of coaches and volunteers as well as coaching. Like any organization, two people cannot do all the work -- they had the involvement of wonderful people to help in every way. People who brought their own children and grandchildren back to the program to play.
The Wheat Ridge archives include 62 years of schedule books, 62 years of records of the Girls' Softball League of Jefferson County, 57 years of Wheat Ridge rosters, and boxes and boxes of paperwork pertaining to both Wheat Ridge and county history. Some of the players and volunteers were part of Wheat Ridge for maybe one or two years but many stayed loyal for many years. Not only did these ladies work at the local level, they remained active at the county level.
Wheat Ridge Today
Upon Betty's retirement, we had to find 6 people to fill her shoes -- President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Registrar, Equipment Manager, game and field scheduler. From five teams of 75 girls playing 31 games in 1953 to fourteen teams today (including 3 competitive teams) with some 175 girls playing over 100 games is exciting for the six volunteers who now operate an organization which was started by three individuals and presided over by two women from 1953-1999 with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
From the very beginning, the organizers had to work and fight hard for practice and game fields for the girls. Today, we have an excellent relationship with the City of Wheat Ridge who fairly provides fields for girls, adult & senior softball, baseball, soccer, football, and lacrosse. They work cooperatively with the Jefferson County School in Wheat Ridge to maintain school fields for the youth. Today, the girls play home games at Randall Park at 41st and Fenton St., Stevens Elementary at 38th & High Court, Paramount Park at 27th & Kipling, and at Creekside Park at 49th and Lamar.