Chips’ Vander Weele to play softball in Italy

Megan Vander Weele, a Manistee senior, will represent the United States while playing in an international tournament in Italy this summer. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

Megan Vander Weele has played on a number of different softball teams over the last decade, but the uniform she’ll wear this summer will be special.

Vander Weele, a Manistee senior, will represent the United States while playing in Italy.

“I’m not going to mince words,” she said, “it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to play against different countries.”

Vander Weele was invited to wear the red, white and blue by North American Prospects, which organizes international tournaments in multiple sports.

“I’m not sure how I was chosen,” she said, “but I think it’s obviously from travel softball.”

Vander Weele, a standout shortstop, has been on the Manistee varsity team since her freshman year and intends to play for Muskegon Community College once she can make her decision official in the summer. Before making the leap to college, she’ll get to hop a plane abroad and use a passport for the first time.

The trip, which is from Aug. 1 to 9, begins in Rome with sightseeing stops at the Vatican and Coliseum before a trip to Florence. The USA team will then compete for four days in the Arezzo Invitational.

“I’m excited,” Vander Weele said, saying she’s looking forward to “meeting new people, seeing all the history and, most of all, playing softball, the game I love.”

Although Vander Weele has played golf and basketball for Manistee, being on the diamond is special.

“Softball is by far my favorite,” she said. “I just love the game. I don’t know what it is about it. I can use all my adrenaline while playing.”

Vander Weele won’t get a chance to meet her teammates and coach until August but isn’t too concerned about details like what position she’ll play or where she’ll bat in the lineup.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “As long as I’m there playing, I’m just going to have a good time. It’s the opportunity I get.”

The chance to represent the USA in Italy is a unique one, but not cheap since each player is responsible for $3,895 to cover the trip. Vander Weele said it was a tough decision but not one she was going to pass up.

“It’s an awesome experience,” she said. “I made the choice to go because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, obviously.”

If anyone is interested in donating money to help defray the cost of the trip, Vander Weele can be reached at (231) 848-4698 or at 17634 Caberfae Highway, Wellston, MI, 49689.

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