YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) – Canada softball pitcher Lauren Regula’s husband and three children will not be there in person to watch her take on either Australia or Mexico for a bronze medal on Tuesday.
But she will be slipping her right hand into a mitt inscribed with the letters D, G, J and W – the first initial of each family member’s name. Having them on her hand has been essential leading up to Canada’s swing at their first softball medal.
“When I’m having feels, these are my sources of inspiration,” Regula told Reuters. “We’ve spent so much time away from family that I want to make the most of it.”
Softball and baseball players have long embroidered mitts with personal mottos, initials or symbols. With the ban on fans due to COVID-19 and the sports’ return to the Olympics, the practice has become more prevalent.
Regula, 39, said the Games are her first time putting something on a glove. It also features “SMSF,” an acronym for “strong mom, strong family.”
Team mate Larissa Franklin put “the true north” outside her glove for the Olympics and “strong and free” inside, splitting a line from her country’s national anthem.
“I love the anthem, I love Canada. Any piece of home I can bring on the journey, it helps me along,” said Franklin, among her team’s most productive hitters.
Yamato Fujita, a top batter for hosts and gold contender Japan, has on her mitt the whimsical Japanese character that starts her first name.
“When children see something cute or that stands out, they will be interested in it, and I want to inspire more children to play the sport,” she said.
Josh Zeid, a baseball pitcher for Israel, which make their Olympic debut this week, has said his glove has “take me out to the ball game” in Hebrew, the last words of his grandfather, who recently passed away.
Some prefer to reach lower for inspiration. Tribal dot art decorates the cleats of Tarni Stepto, an Australia softball pitcher who nearly beat the other gold competitor, the United States.
“Watering hole” symbols painted in earth colours by her grandmother’s niece before the Games remind Stepto to stay grounded and close to team mates. “It’s special to have that piece of family here,” she said.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Karishma Singh)