College of the Canyons softball hosted its second-ever alumni game on Saturday at Whitten Field on the College of the Canyons campus.
The current COC softball team played a five-inning game against a team of all the alumni that registered for the game. Each inning allowed the alumni team six batters while the current team was afforded six batters or three outs, whichever came first.
The game was just for fun and no score was kept.
Cougars head coach John Wissmath came up with the idea when he first came to COC and his concept came to fruition in 2015. He planned for the event to be every five years, almost like a reunion.
“The biggest reason for the five years is I just feel that after five years, people want to see the change,” Wissmath said. “If you have a reunion every year, it’s kind of the same thing. After that amount of time, it’s fun for me at least to see the change in these athletes and how much College of the Canyons has changed their lives.”
This year’s event had a distinct alumnus join in the festivities. Andie Hochman played on the original COC softball team in 1985. Even more special is that she is the aunt of former Cougar centerfielder Rena Edwards, who played for Wissmath last season.
Hochman reminisced on her time at COC during the game. She told the girls stories of how things were when the softball team was first started, explaining to them how they didn’t have a field and many of the buildings in the background didn’t even exist at the time.
“I thought that was really cool. It was a really nice gesture to have her here and talk to the girls,” Wissmath said. “I think just being able to hear some of the stories that she got to talk about to the girls, it was neat.”
As much as the alumni made the event special for the current players, the girls wanted to make it special for them as well. The current players filled the alumni dugout with sunflower seeds and bubblegum to give the alumni a feeling of being back at their own COC games.
The alumni team was also provided with commemorative Alumni Softball Game shirts to act as its uniform.
“We’ve got to remember that the whole reason behind playing this game is to have a great time,” Wissmath said. “The whole idea of playing sports is to have a great time.”
The game went off without a hitch and proved to be a great camaraderie event for current and former players alike.
“Nothing gives me more joy to see them with big smiles on their faces,” Wissmath said of alumni returning for the game. “It feels good to know they had a great time here and they enjoyed their time at College of the Canyons playing ball here.”
The game was followed by a home run derby. It took a few pitches for it to really get going, but ended up being another great part of the reunion.
Assistant coach Ashley Sandoval-Colon was another special alumnus in attendance. She won the home run derby and hit the only home run during the game as a member of the alumni team. She played for the Cougars under Wissmath in 2013 and 2014.
Wissmath also credited her for being an integral part of the planning process for the event.
“She really helped me a ton putting this thing together,” he said. “Without her, it would have been really difficult to do again.”
Now with the alumni game over, Wissmath finally has a chance to focus on the Cougars’ upcoming season. Planning for the reunion has taken over his and Sandoval-Colon’s time for the last two weeks.
“I’m glad that right now I can start coaching and put my mindset towards the season,” Wissmath said.
It will be another five years before College of the Canyons hosts another alumni game. Wissmath plans for the next one to be even bigger than the first two.
“We always want to try and one-up each alumni game. I’m sure it will be really good,” he said.