A Belleville youth softball club got a surprise visit at practice Sunday from an all-time great Olympic champion.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee told members of the Junior Lancers 14-and-under team not to be held back by self-doubt and to build each other’s confidence with support and team work.
“You can turn a doubter into a believer,” she told them. “That’s the confidence that you have to have each and every day, not just on this field but in the classroom. That kind of confidence becomes contagious to one another. ... You have the power to empower yourselves to be the best that you can be. Don’t let anyone put boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to fall short because you don’t believe in yourself.”
Joyner-Kersee is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, world record-holder in the heptathlon, former long jump world record-holder and was named by Sports Illustrated as the greatest female athlete of all time. She and her brother Al Joyner, an Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump, are graduates of East St. Louis Senior High School.
The visit was arranged by Mike Greenfield, executive director of the JJK Youth Center in East St. Louis, whose daughter, Maddie, is a member of the team.
The Junior Lancers is a select softball club that sponsors teams at five age levels from 8 to 16.
Those interested in participating in an 8U spring league at Laderman Park can attend an informational meeting for 8U players at Laderman Park, Pavilion 2 on Sunday, Sept. 17. The League is open to all teams. Call Todd Strubhart at Belleville Parks and Recreation at 618-233-1416 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for more information.