When Scott and Laurie Smith met Canadian Olympic softball player Larissa Franklin through a mutual friend in March, they knew they needed to get her to Port Lambton.
The 2020 Olympic bronze medallist from Maple Ridge, B.C., who still plays on Canada’s women’s national team, is also a motivational speaker for young athletes across the country.
“When I first talked with Larissa over the phone, I knew this was going to be a great experience for the players, but also the parents and Port Lambton coaches,” said Laurie Smith, who coaches the Port Lambton Pirates girls’ U15 team.
“Larissa’s motto is ‘ALL IT TAKES’ and is printed upside down on her shirts because everyone has the ability inside of them, you don’t have to look to others to tell you what it takes; you already have it so when you look down you will read it.”
Larissa – whose resume also includes Pan American gold and silver medalist, two-time World bronze medalist, world record holder, and hall of fame member – spent a full weekend at the MacDonald Park ball diamonds, hosting training and mentoring sessions with dozens of young female Pirates, from U9 to U15.
Under Larissa’s direction, the U15 girls acted as coaches and mentors for the younger group as a way to teach them what it’s like to run a practice and run through drills, said Smith. She brought along her Olympic bronze medal and dedicated time for signing autographs and photos.
“As the U15 coach, former softball player and mom of a female athlete, I wanted to give these girls an experience like no other, an experience that wasn’t even a reality when I was younger,” she added. “To listen to an elite female athlete describe her career of ups and downs, tell the girls they all have what it takes to succeed in life during and after sport was amazing.
“Larissa was energetic, positive and her enthusiasm for life spilled out onto the diamond every session.”