Gianna Kasper knows what you think: she’s a girl, so she should play softball, but the 15-year-old is only interested in playing baseball.
“I do not like softball,” says Gianna. “I’ve always been with baseball, all my life, and it hasn’t been softball just because baseball is more of a challenge, and I would rather be challenged.”
“She would never play softball,” adds Gianna’s mother Adrienne. “She just wanted to play baseball, and that’s all she’s ever going to play.”
Last month, the determined attitude led Gianna to trial for the baseball team Downers Grove South. She was the only girl who tried, but that is not the only reason why she stood out for head coach Brett Wolf.
“Right away we noticed that Gianna had a high IQ for the game,” says Wolf. “She’s athletic, she knows how to put her place – she really only fits in with the rest of the team.”
Not long after the trials ended, Gianna received good news. She had become the first girl in the school’s history to make any of her baseball teams.
“I actually took a test when I got the email from my coach,” she recalls. “I went crazy in my head, but I also took a test, so I had to focus on taking the rest. And then when I finished the test, I ran down and started crying and told my mother,” Gianna adds.
How was Adrienne?
“I do not even know if pride is a big enough word for me,” she says. “I radiate pride.”
Gianna plays second base for the Mustangs, usually coming from the bench, and she has helped them start 10-2. And every time she takes the path, she does what she loves while remembering the person who used that love: her late father, Tony.
“We were best friends, and we still are,” says Gianna. “He possibly made my attention on all the sports he could.”
The two shared a special bond over baseball, built by playing catch in the backyard and trips to Cubs games. Tony died of a heart attack in August 2019, but Gianna still feels her presence around the diamond.
“Every time I go on the field, I think of him,” she says. “Every game I make. Every second of the day I think of him and how proud he would be of me.”
“I’ve had coaches she’s played for before and say her form is just fantastic,” said Adrienne. “He taught her all that. So I’m thrilled she had the time she had with him, and she had the memories she has, [and] that he instilled this in her. “
Gianna’s dream is to continue playing baseball, even in college, where she hopes to play on a Division I team. She knows it will not be easy, but she is ready for the challenge.
“It’s going to be difficult, but it’s okay, because literally anyone can do anything as long as you think about it,” she says.