Korean women’s baseball team, building up to peak performance

Baseball is a favorite national pastime and considered to be the most popular sport all over the world. Women have always played baseball, but didn’t garner the recognition they deserve. In spite of ignorance of the sports-consuming public majority, nothing daunted, twenty-four players of South Korean women’s baseball team are putting their full efforts on training to participate in the World Series. The crew of amateur women and girls from ages 15 to 40 are building themselves up to peak performance. The story of them will be given with the interview with the captain of the national team, Choi Min-hee.


A captain of the women’s national baseball team, Choi Min-hee, is a catcher and an infielder for the national team. Team training is done only on weekends, and during the week, players are engaged in their own daily lives. Choi Min-hee goes to the gym every day during the week to develop her muscles. Currently, she seldom goes to the gym or takes lessons in the field, because of the pandemic, so she is doing physical training at her house these days.


Choi played as an infielder in the Women’s Baseball Asian Cup in Zhongshan, China, in 2019, but unfortunately failed to qualify for the Women’s Baseball World Cup. The Women’s Baseball Asian Cup, the only women’s baseball tournament hosted by the Asian Baseball Softball Federation, is held every two years and is also a preliminary match for the World Cup. The Women’s Baseball World Cup is an international competition which is built for the top women in the sport. Every player dreamed of challenging themselves in the biggest stage.

Recalling the moment on the ground, she said that she felt a sense of frustration at how the game ended because the team had not won the ticket for the finals. However, the games were etched on her memory. It was her first time on the global stage. She realized that it is important to control herself throughout the competition. Even if she made a mistake, she should not be distracted so that she could get ready for the next turn and game. She also had to take care of his physical strength so that she wouldn’t get injured. Every game was important because women’s baseball rankings were given points in each game.


The match was a priceless opportunity where she felt more responsible than other games. She could play on behalf of the country with the national flag on her chest. She said she was able to learn from the skills of athletes she met from each country. She said she had seen a bigger picture, and also the potential for development.


When asked, “What is the most important thing when leading a team as a captain?”, she said that the atmosphere of the team is the most important on the ground. There are some days when she can’t do well or makes mistakes. Sometimes she is not in a good condition. She said, “Even if I made a mistake during the game, I have to shake it off with a smile on my face, and when I see someone else having trouble, I should encourage her to energize the team. It is because baseball is a team game.”

Choi was in a lifelong love affair with the sport. She started out as a softball player when she was in the third grade of middle school. Her physical education teacher recommended her to the manager of the girl’s softball team. She also worked as a varsity team and an independent team. When she returned to the ground as a softball coach in a girl’s middle school after a two-year break from parenting, her friend, Kim Hyo-ri who is now in Seoul ‘Hura’ baseball team, suggested that she start baseball together. An encouragement from her friend led her to the ballpark.


Then what brought her to the ballpark even after her childbirth? To be honest, she feels bored with this kind of question─nobody asks these questions related to birth and parenting to male players. Choi explains that when she’s at home only taking care of her child (her daughter is in the second year of elementary school), there’s no her own time. Most of her time is devoted to the family. The time to go out to play baseball in a baseball uniform is the only time for herself. “It’s a time when I can devote all my time to myself and live as ‘Choi Min-hee’, not as someone’s wife or someone’s mother. I realized how precious those hours were during the time I stopped exercising for a while.”


Women all over the country, and now the world, have fought for the chance to play on their school’s baseball team. Some have succeeded, and most have failed, but none have made a serious impact. In order to activate women’s baseball, Choi thinks, club activities should be activated at each school. Given her experience at a girl’s school as a coach, baseball is still unfamiliar for girls. Many young students will dream of becoming a baseball player if they naturally have a chance to play baseball. Still, Choi hopefully said there are more girls emerging in the Little League now than in the past.


She also thinks the reason why female athletes earn less money is because they lack their ability to mobilize spectators and marketability. If more women play baseball, which helps break down barriers, so the number of opportunities for females will expand across all levels of baseball, ultimately helping to evolve and redefine the notion of ‘women’s sports. In that sense, in order to get more young people involved in the game at every level, Choi wants women to relieve their vague fear about sports. Even if they are interested in baseball, they seem to hesitate about whether they can do well. There are a number of women’s baseball amateur teams all over the country. “Just search on the Internet and you can get the list of teams.”, she added. Anyone can easily join amateur teams than they expected. There are many players who start for the first time in their 20s or 30s. “There are more amateur teams than you think, so I think it’s a sport that you can enjoy without any burden. I hope you participate a lot because we can have fun together.”


Kayla Hong

Asia Journal

(Los Angeles Times Advertising Supplement)