SYCAMORE – A short, but forceful storm had just stopped. The softball fields at Sycamore Park had become miniature ponds, and the players at the Storm Dayz tournament were trudging around, waiting for the delay to end.
This is Abby Foulk’s 12th year playing in the tournament, and the Kishwaukee Valley Storm pitcher has gained many lasting memories, but this aspect of the tournament has been more consistent than any other.
“Rain. Every single year,” Foulk said. “And it’s what we saw today. The Storm Dayz brings the storm.”
Now, she gets to pass the tradition to her sister. As an 18U player and recent Sycamore graduate, this will be Abby’s final year, but it’s just the beginning for 9-year-old Andrea Foulk.
But it’s not just the inclement weather that defines Abby’s lengthy tenure within the organization. There are many positive experiences that she won’t soon forget, even after she heads off to play at Waubonsee Community College.
“You just make a lot of great friends through it,” Abby said. “Everyone lives close, so you just bring people over to your house, and you bond over the weekend more than you would at other tournaments.”
That camaraderie, along with the competition that she says is better than high school softball, is what led her to convince Andrea to go out for the 10U team. Although in hindsight, “convince” might not be the right word.
“I don’t know,” Andrea said, wondering why she tried out. “All I know is you made me!”
It’s not a statement that Abby denies. She said that without a little push, her younger sister never would have taken the chance.
“She was just nervous,” Abby said, “but I brought her to the tryout anyway. I put her in the car and said we were going to go for ice cream or something.”
It’s no surprise that Andrea was a little apprehensive about the tryout. Not only did she just turn 9, but she also was given the nickname “Squirt” for her small stature.
If anyone was going to coach her into it, however, it would be Abby, who joined the organization at such a young age that she was with the 10U team for four years. Coming from a family in which her father played baseball and her mother played softball, her athletic path seemed predestined.
“From what I hear, my brother came out of the womb with a glove on,” Abby said. “He was on the Sycamore Sidewinders (USSSA travel team), and I was always jealous, like, ‘I wanna go to all these tournaments. I wanna play like this.’ ”
When she looks at where her older sister is headed, Andrea sees a future in college softball, as well. And her goals certainly are lofty.
“UCLA,” she said when asked where she’d like to play. “Probably because my dad told me to.”
With a family full of dedicated athletes, it’s understandable she dreams big.
“Our dad is very much about shooting for the stars,” Abby said. “He’s a very big supporter, so he probably said she should shoot for somewhere like UCLA.”
Athletically, the sisters are mirror images of each other. Both started playing for Storm very early. Both have college softball on the brain. And both have an undeniable love for the game.
That’s why they are so close. The age difference may be wide, but the bond between them is strong, even for a pair of siblings.
“We are extremely close,” Abby said. “We talk about pretty much everything. It sounds kind of cliché, but she’s one of my best friends.”
That strong relationship, combined with a little big-sister pressure, is why the name Foulk will be staying with the KW Storm for a long, long time.