When Carson Cameron signed up to play softball for Morningside College, she said it was a dream come true for her.
Another dream came true for the 2017 Tekamah-Herman grad recently.
She was chosen to play on a select team of college players that will tour Italy this summer.
The tour, put together by Beyond Sports, has the team playing three games in 11 days against some of the top amateur clubs in the country.
Cameron said her group leaves June 14 and returns June 24 and she is excited for the opportunity.
She said travel abroad, the chance to meet new people and experience different culture, is something she’s wanted for a long time. In fact, the possibility of overseas travel is one of the factors that convinced her to attend Morningside. But playing softball for the school makes taking advantage of that option nearly impossible because of schedule conflicts.
“Those trips usually go in May and we’re not done with softball yet,” she said. “This is kind of the best of both worlds.”
They’ll be playing against European (mostly Italian) club teams, representing their university, division and the U.S. abroad.
Cameron said she’s looking forward to more than the high-level softball.
Sure, playing against some of Italy’s best players and seeing how they play the game will be fun, but she wants to soak up the Italian culture, too. The food, the art, the architecture, the people, all of it.
She’ll have plenty of chances.
The tour starts in Rome. They play their first game on their second day in the Eternal City, following a tour of the Vatican.
After another day in Rome, and another game, it’s off to Tuscany and a tour of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Then it’s on to Milan and Lake Como in the Lombardy region where their third game will be played.
Players are selected a few different ways, said Beyond Sports spokesman Erin Norris, the coordinator for the tour.
She said selections can come from the recommendation of coaches, either her coach directly, or someone in her conference or region, all-conference awards and/or based on their individual season statistics from 2018.
Cameron gave the powers that be plenty of good reasons to pick her.
She was a first team all-Great Plains Athletic Conference selection in 2018, helping the Mustangs to a tie for the GPAC’s regular season crown. The top hitting freshman for the Mustangs, Cameron recorded 44 hits in 127 at-bats for a .346 batting average with four doubles, two home runs, 22 RBIs, 23 runs scored and a team-high eight stolen bases.
Cameron hit safely in 25 of her final 29 contests, including a streak of 16 consecutive games with a hit from April 10-28 for the Mustangs’ longest hitting streak of the season. She batted .394 over her last 29 games of the campaign.
Founded in 2010, Beyond Sports has had over 2,700 college students, teams and coaches travel through its programs—representing 606 universities over the years.
Morniside coach Jessica Jones-Sitzmann said she frequently receives requests from organizations looking for players willing to make overseas trips. She takes those requests and forwards them on to the players.
“I didn’t know anything about it until coach told me I’d been selected,” Cameron said. “I am really looking forward to doing something beyond college.”
Jones-Sitzmann, who is entering her 20th season at the Morningside helm, said its not unusual for a sophomore to take the plunge. She said another sophomore and two juniors were invited this year and four Mustangs have played internationally in the past—and she’s all for it.
“It gives our players more exposure to the game and to other players,” she said. “Seeing the different abilities is good.”
Cameron’s teammates Lexie Stolen and Mackenzie Lose also are going. Lose, a junior from Indianola, Iowa, was a second team all-GPAC selection last year while Stolen, a sophomore from Sioux City, was an honorable mention choice.
Jones-Sitzmann also said the tour is a great bonding opportunity for the players. “I’m excited for this opportunity for them!”