Entering her first season on the CSI softball team, Christine DeCarlo Todaro is ready to learn the ways of being a Dolphin. She is no stranger to CSI sports, playing with the women’s basketball team in the winter. DeCarlo will start her season playing second base and will look to help the Dolphins defend their CUNYAC Championship title. Follow DeCarlo as she and her team go through Opening Day, practices, being a student, team bonding, and most importantly defending their title!

DeCarlo will make periodical contributions to his blog, giving insiders a taste of what Dolphins softball is all about.

Here, the first year junior speaks of the team’s spring break trip to California for their first games of the season and the team bonding that went with it:

As a freshman on any defending-championship team, you’re not sure what to expect entering your first season. What you do know by becoming a CSI Dolphin is that you’re joining a softball dynasty that has dominated its CUNY competitors for the past 10 years. And perhaps, you also know as assuming your role as freshman, you are at the bottom of the food chain; dragging equipment from game to game, working hard to earn the respect of your teammates and a spot in the lineup, and always vigilant of the predators in the food chain, the seniors, as they may coerce you to adorn the letter ‘F’ on your forehead to dinner to ensure humiliation before an entire restaurant as they now can distinguish the upperclassmen from the “fresh meat”. Regardless, this year freshman make up the majority of the team, filling 9 of the 15 roster spots, and are expected to quickly mature as players in order to achieve the same results as last year and possibly even advance further in the NCAA championships. The journey began last Sunday as we left for spring training in the ‘Golden State’ of California.

After clocking in countless hours at practice since January and some last minute packing, we departed from JFK early Sunday morning and touched down at LAX around noon that same day with our expectations set high and itching to begin our season with three double headers scattered throughout the week. On Sunday night, we hit up the infamous Santa Monica pier where we played some carnival games, walked the beach, and some of us [attempted to] sing & dance with street musicians and performers [a man covered head-to-toe in gold, glittery paint strutting some legit robot dance moves]. Disneyland was planned for Monday and we took the park by storm taking pictures with Mickey, going on a ton of rides, and buying souvenirs.

Finally, game day arrived as we filed on to the bus with the sun warming a beautiful California Tuesday morning to a comfortable 70 degrees and set off to Los Angeles, CA for a double header against Concordia of Chicago and Whittier of California at Bonita Park. Although we played solid defensive games, our bats were slow to come together and runs were hard to come by as we ended the day with two losses. As the beautiful weather carried into Wednesday unfortunately so did our poor offensive performance as we dropped another two games to Cal Lutheran University at their home field set in front of a breathtaking California mountainside in Thousand Oaks, CA. After a disappointing start to our Spring training, we took a break from playing as we headed to Universal Studios on Thursday which proved to be one of the best days of the trip as we took full advantage of all the offered attractions, went on a tour of the studio’s back lots and some movie sets, took tons of pictures, and ended the day with a team dinner. Friday was by far the hottest day during our stay as temperature surpassed 85 degrees at Pomona College as we took on the Sagehens. With the weather heating up, so did our bats as we started making solid contact and most importantly, scoring runs. We came close to capturing our first win of the season when a walk-off three run homer by one of our formidable opponents crushed any hope we had. Sadly, our losing streak continued as we gave away another pair of games, ending spring training with a 0-6 record.

After a trip to Hollywood on Saturday morning, we caught the red-eye flight home landing in good ol’ New York on Sunday morning. Looking on the brightside, spring training gave way to many standout performances with Kaitlyn Flynn hitting her first homerun of the season and making some impressive defensive plays at third base. Brittany Smith and I recorded our first college career hits. The entire pitching rotation gave their best efforts as they powered through six games in four days. Catherine Ebro, Amanda D’Amato, and Kristi Dillion consistently found their way on base throughout this trip as we hope they’re able to carry it over to the regular season starting March 24th. We also celebrated Brittany Smith’s and Catherine Ebro’s birthday during our stay. [It’s now made obvious that neither wished for a win while in Cali when blowing out their birthday candles.]

I began the blog with some things a freshman player knows when coming into a winning college softball program. However, before this week, I wasn’t aware that I was a part of something much more than a team. When we put on our uniforms and take to the field, we are teammates; pushing each other to our highest potentials, lifting each other up in times of defeat, and working together towards the ultimate goal, a CUNYAC championship. When we sit down together for dinner, share laughs [mostly at Maria Genovese who regularly coins phrases comparable to Yogi Berra’s ‘yogisms’ that we’ve appropriately have named ‘maria-isms”. For example: “That guy is blind, so then he probably can’t see.”– actual sentence from the mouth of Maria Genovese], eat our first ‘In-n-Out’ burgers together, hangout on the weekends, share a hotel bathroom with four other girls without any major casualties, we are a family. What separates a team from a family is what happens off the field. Sure, we don’t always get along, we critique each other and ourselves, we have a bad game, we make mistakes and we disagree at times. We are girls after all, from all walks of life and a melting pot of many different personalities. As teammates, we are able to look past each others’ mistakes, but as family we are able to grow from them. As teammates we are able to accept defeat, but as family we are able to keep our heads up high in defeat by leaning on each other.

Although we left California without a win, each one of us grew individually as a player, a teammate, and collectively, we grew as a family. We go on from here working hard for the next two weeks, improving on our shortcomings that were made apparent during these last few games, and looking forward to the start of the regular season as our journey to a CUNYAC championship continues. I believe American writer Richard Bach describes our spring training experience best, “That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.”