From the first pitch of a softball game, the Cheshire Flames 12-and-Under Red team works as hard as they can to come away victorious, but for the coaching staff, there are more important life lessons that go beyond wins and losses.
“We feel that it is important to be of strong character and treat everyone as if they were our own daughters,” said Head Coach Jay Miramant, who works with Ed Dooley, Dave Dykeman, and Keith Fleming on the Flames staff. “The game of softball has given so much to our players and it is good to give back.”
Feeling a sense of pride in their community, the Flames chose to leave the diamond for a day this fall to test out their skill set at the agriculture life. As a service project on Sept. 27, the girls spent a couple of hours volunteering at Old Bishop Farms in Cheshire.
“When you are 11 and 12, it can be tough to understand how much other people do for you, but it is important,” explained Miramant. “Bishop Farms is a hard-working business in town and we thought it would be good to go out and help them on a Sunday.”
John and Carolyn Torello bought Old Bishop Farms back in 2015 and then shut it down for renovation, reopening in the fall of 2018. Miramant reached out to Carolyn about his team visiting there.
“I have so much respect for that family,” stated Miramant. “Carolyn wants to do things to bring joy to kids.”
Of the 10 players on the Flames, there are seven 12-year-olds and three 11-year-olds. Miramant said that the girls were motivated to volunteer by Cheshire High School softball, a program that participates in community projects throughout the year.
“The girls work out in the winter with (Head Coach) Kristine Drust and (Assistant) Jaymie Sommers,” said Miramant. “We look up to them as role models.”
For their visit to Old Bishop Farms last month, the Flames helped out in activities like setting up a pumpkin patch and raking leaves.
“The lead farmer, Charles (Beasley), showed them around and pointed out what you do on the farm,” said Miramant. “The coaches were there and followed the girls around to help guide them.”
Catcher Molly Fleming enjoyed watering flowers and plants.
“It felt good to give back to our town and help people out,” stated Fleming.
Jaze Ribeiro liked carrying pumpkins around and filling up the patch.
“It was a lot of fun,” reflected Ribeiro, a shortstop who also plays at catcher. “We all really bonded and did a lot of activities.”
The Flames appreciate the opportunity to do things together. Last winter, the girls worked out for 10 weeks with the CHS coaching staff, but their game schedule had to be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our girls and families are tremendous,” said Miramant. “They looked forward to when we could play again.”
In late June, the team was able to kick off their season with the Cheshire Flames Invitational. From there, the squad played against teams in the Central Valley Fastpitch League.
“We do our best to maintain social distance and wear masks when we are at different facilities,” explained Miramant. “We have all taken the guidelines seriously because we want to continue to be around each other.”
In the Wolcott Fall League, the Flames will finish up their fall season on Sunday.
“I really like how we can still have games,” said Molly Fleming. “We have to follow some rules, but as long as we can play, it is fun.”
The Flames view their team more like a family. With the core of the squad being together for the last four years, the girls have participated in activities like trips to Highland Bowl.
“I like being close with my teammates,” said Molly Fleming. “We feel very comfortable together.”
In moving to Cheshire from Newtown this year, Ribeiro was a little nervous about joining a new team, but she quickly transitioned to being a part of the Flames.
“I really like my team,” stated Ribeiro. “They are awesome and encouraging. We not only hang out in sports, but also in and out of school.”
With many travel programs in the state, the Flames coaching staff feels fortunate that girls want to play for their team.
“Kids have a lot of choices and it can be easy to get caught up in win and losses,” said Miramant. “It says a lot for a group to stay together in good times and bad.”
The Flames are currently looking into more community projects. During a Zoom meeting this month, the coaches asked parents if they had any good causes that the team should look into becoming a part of in the future.
“We are going to make these activities into a regular thing with our girls,” stated Miramant. “We have a great set of parents right now. They are very supportive of what we are trying to do.”