Softball’s Campbell and Morris go ‘beyond sports’ in South Africa


Mitchell Johnson, Sports Editor

When CWU head coach Mike Larabee received an email from asking for talented softball players willing to travel to halfway across the world, he knew exactly the duo to relay the message to.

According to Beyond Sports Tours website, they are an international education and service-learning organization that uses sports to create cross-cultural relationships.

The organization brought in softball players to create four separate teams.

The two players were senior first baseman Kailyn Campbell and senior outfielder Sammy Morris. Campbell and Morris’ friendship started before playing softball at CWU. Their companionship went as far back as playing on a select softball team, the Washington Hustle.

When Campbell and Morris talked about the decision it was pretty easy. They both agreed on going, as long as the other went too.

“It was just more about asking our parents,” Morris said.

The two players left on June 19 traveling for over 27 hours to Cape Town, South Africa.

When they got off the plane and traveled by bus to their hotel, they got a big glimpse of how different South Africa was compared to the United States.

“A lot of it was pretty [impoverished], there wasn’t a lot of great rich, thriving community there so it was pretty eye opening to see the townships that we got to tour in,” Morris said.

Morris and Campbell were on Team Cheetah.

The four teams played three games against the Cape Town Softball Association. The games they played were competitive, but playful in nature.

“Just playing them they were just so excited,” Morris said. “Kailyn hit a homerun and [the opposing team] were giving high fives and they were like ‘nice hit.’”

Team Cheetah won all three games they played in South Africa, one of the games being against the South African National team, but this trip was more than just about winning games.

Another big part of the trip was helping out the area with softball clinics in order to teach the sport to players who do not necessarily have their own resources to do play the game.

“Far as men’s and women’s fastpitch [in South Africa] – they have a ways to go, but I know that Sammy and Kailyn were able to put on clinics and I think that’s the way you are going to grow the game,” head coach Larabee said. “Being able to go into a country that’s not as quite up to par as United States and share some new ideas.”

During their off-time from softball, the pair also got to do some sightseeing while learning about South African history. They went on a big game safari, visited Robben Island (the site of the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years) and hiked up Table Mountain.

The entire experience left both players thankful for what they have back home and gave them an eye-opening experience about how people live in another culture.

“Every single person there is so thankful if not more than we are,” Campbell said.

Campbell and Morris arrived back in the United States on July 2 following another 27-hour travel day.

“Kailyn did an outstanding job on Facebook and Twitter, so I was keeping up with her the whole time,” Larabee said. “I could tell they were having an incredible experience.”

In 2000, Larabee made the United States Men’s Softball team when the World Championships were held in East London, South Africa. When Larabee was there he experienced the same difference in culture that Campbell and Morris did.

Larabee has heard of the program a little before getting the email, and liked how these types of programs were growing the game.

Another point Larabee made about the growth of the game is softball coming back to the Olympics in 2020 after a 12-year absence.

“I think it’s a very popular sport worldwide and you still have five or six nations that are heads-and-tails above the rest,” Larabee said. “Long as the United States and other countries are going out still doing clinics and trying to grow the game. People in other nations take it seriously and they can finance it – it can be really cool maybe 10 years from now there could be instead of five or six powers maybe there’s 15 or 20.”