Sadie Silverstein’s lifelong dream has been to play the sport she loves, smashing barriers along the way.
The 13-year-old Marana resident’s sport of choice is the nation’s pastime, a game she’s excelled at since she was 6.
The Red Rock Elementary School student has dominated the Little League circuit so far, posting an eye-popping .632 batting average for the Red Rock club.
Her numbers should speak for themselves, though Silverstein has already encountered several obstacles in her career, such as getting left off a local club team because the coach feared possible sexual harassment by players.
All Sadie wants to do is play the game she loves, which is exactly what she did in mid-April, when she competed in Major League Baseball’s third-annual Trailblazer Series.
The series, held between April 11 and 13 at the MLB’s Youth Academy in Compton, California, brought 100 girls ages 13 and younger from around the country to play ball.
Silverstein was treated to an action-packed weekend, spending time with a who’s-who of baseball celebrities, including members of the All-American Professional Baseball League and several MLB executives.
The girls also played three games at the Compton facility before being treated to a Dodgers game at Dodgers Stadium Friday, April 12.
Notification of her selection to the camp came via email after an MLB employee saw Sadie playing in a local tournament. Her father, Drew Silverstein, received an email shortly thereafter from the organization, asking if his daughter would be interested in participating in the series.
The 13-year-old, who can play all nine positions on the diamond, said the Trailblazer Series provided her a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It was amazing to meet more girls that play baseball, and meet other girls like me, because I had never met another one,” she said. “And it was just so amazing to be in a room with 100 of them.”
Sadie, whose goal is to be the first girl to play for the Marana High School baseball team, said the experience left her a bit awestruck.
“It felt like the dream, just because it’s always been a dream for girls for me to play baseball,” she said. “But then when I realized that there were so many amazing girl baseball players out there, I just knew the dream was 100 percent real, that we’re going to be in baseball.”
For Drew, watching his daughter thrive at the sport he played and coached has been a dream come true.
He’s proud to see how hard Sadie has worked at the game, fielding hundreds of grounders each week, while getting her cuts in the batting cage as well.
“It’s just always been great to watch her play, and it’s just been a dream come true seeing her compete and have fun,” Drew said. “It’s amazing to see her hanging in there and pushing hard and working hard. She’s embraced the work ethic it takes to be a baseball player, and the athletic ability that it takes to play as well.”
A former junior college player and coach, Drew has instilled the same work ethic he used during his playing days in his daughter.
It’s that work ethic that provided Sadie the opportunity to compete in the California series, and that drives her to break through the sport’s glass ceiling.
That motivation hasn’t gone anywhere in the weeks since she left Compton, taking the lessons she learned at the facility and applying them to her work in the classroom and on the diamond.
“[The Trailblazer Series] gives me motivation to keep working harder and keep trying to find a way to play baseball in high school and college,” Sadie said. “I found pen pals there, and I stay connected with them, and it gives me the motivation to keep going. Definitely.”
When asked if she sees herself as a role model to aspiring female ballplayers, said she’s willing to do whatever it takes to open doors for future generations. She doesn’t wax poetic about inequality or injustice, she lets her meteoric statistics do the talking, smashing any preconceptions about the sport.
“I hope that any little sisters, or any little girls watching me play on the field, get inspired to know that girls can do whatever they want,” she said. “They can play baseball. They can go to middle school and play baseball. They can go to high school and play baseball. You just need to work hard.”
Sadie said her goal is to use baseball to get a college education, with an eye on becoming a doctor in the future.
For now, she’s focused on the sport over which she and her father bond, and she’s not about to let antiquated gender roles hamper her expectations.
Sadie said she’s used the experience with the club team that barred her from playing due to her gender as fuel, striving to show those that doubt her how wrong they are.
“Playing with the boys from a young age, we were all like a family, and nothing had ever happened like that,” she said. “I guess up until that point, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just a given that they let me try out. But now that I know that, I know that I have to work 10 times harder, and just be a team leader.”