France did have the scoop when Melissa Mayeux started to play for the Division 1 Montpellier Barracudas. But Belgium is a good second with Charlotte Meert. Time for you to get acquainted with the first female player in the highest Belgian Baseball League.
Charlotte started playing baseball at the age of six. She started her career with the Namur Angels. Most of what she knows about baseball and most of her skills, she learned with that club. After practicing some other sports first, she ended up with baseball. She played softball in Flanders for two years but returned to baseball as she liked it better.
On my question how she got at the current level, Charlotte answered: “I worked hard because the competition with boys is like a challenge to me. I wanted to prove that women can play baseball too. There are more girls in Belgium that play baseball but at a certain age they turn to softball because their coaches claim the can’t play baseball because they are not strong enough.” According to Charlotte, baseball is not only about power. “It is about what is in your head. If you know what you are doing on the field and think about what needs to happen in advance, you are doing a good job.”
The now seventeen-year old, faced some nasty remarks when she was younger. When she played teams she had never met before, the boys of the opponent made remarks like “Look, a girl. What is she doing there?” Or “Oh she is going to catch, now we can steal bases easily.” This motivated her to throw those players out on the bases. But luckily, most reactions were positive. The bad thing is that sometimes the parents of the opposing players make negative remarks even before they have seen her play. And parents should know better.
Currently, Charlotte is still in high school where she is studying languages. Right now she is learning Dutch, English and Spanish. Pretty impressive. Charlotte is not chasing a career in the Major Leagues. She wants to have fun in playing baseball, she wants to travel and meet many baseball lovers in other countries. “Perhaps”, she said, “I can coach kids in the future.”
On my question how it feels to be the first female player in the highest Belgian league, Charlotte answered: “I don’t feel like it is a big deal. I am just a player, just like boys. It should be normal for a girl to play baseball. If she works hard and keeps it going, it is just like a boy is playing. If a boy doesn’t work hard, he cannot reach the highest leagues either. I am just like everybody else. I only have long hair.
Melissa Mayeux, who was the first female in Europe to reach her country’s highest baseball league, was an example for Charlotte when she was still a little girl. Back then she always watched videos of Melissa . There is one difference. Melissa turned to softball and is playing for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (NCAA, Division I). Charlotte has stayed loyal to baseball so far.
According to Charlotte, she was a little bit nervous when she debuted in the BBG League in 2019 but she also said that she thinks that you should always be a bit nervous before a game.
Charlotte’s regular positions are shortstop and catcher. When she was playing in the tweede klasse (third-tier league), she was also used as a closer or as a reliever in extra innings as she remains calm and doesn’t get stressed.
At one point, Charlotte was thinking about switching to softball but her current coach at Phoenix, who was her coach with the Namur Angels as well, talked her out of it. She is still glad that she did not switch to softball.
What makes baseball the greatest sport for Charlotte? Well, she says she feels free or just somewhere else when she is playing the game. It feels like her problems are gone and all she thinks about is playing, playing, playing. On my question what she would do if the KBBSF/FRBBS would decide to start a women’s league, Charlotte answered that she doesn’t know. She played together with females/girls in Cuba and liked it a lot but she also enjoys to play with men.
Earlier, Charlotte said she loves to travel. Well, baseball has brought her to several parts of the world. She went to the USA, Cuba, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Croatia and the Czech Republic. The intention was to go to Canada in 2020 but corona spoiled her party.
When I asked her what she thought of the chances of Mont-Saint-Guibert Phoenix for the 2021 season, Charlotte answered: “I think we have a chance to win it all. There is a lot of potential in this team. We have a couple of good young players like Julien Muyldermans, Florian Colle, and Quentin Devrees. The older players will guide us and teach us the things we don’t know.”
Charlotte is very objective about it: “If I get a spot at the Top League team, Julien, Florian, and Quentin deserve one for sure.”
I would like to thank Charlotte for the time she took to answer my questions. It is really appreciated.
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