At one time in her life, Sammy Marshall couldn't envision herself as the
one holding the permanent marker or pen to sign autographs after each
game at The Ballpark at Rosemont. In a way, with a year under her belt
in the NPF, it is still a surreal experience for her to line up on the
opposite side of the autograph line. She can still recall in admirable
detail her first time signing her name for a fan.
"This summer, after our first exhibition game against the Rebellion, I
started walking out by where the autograph line starts and just remember
the swarm of kids that were headed our way to sign anything and
everything they wanted," Marshall said. "At that moment, I think this
whole professional experience came full circle for me. Instead of me
being the 12-year-old running at the 20-something-year-olds, I was the
20-something-year-old that was being chased down."
Marshall, a native of Naperville, Ill. brings up "being the 12-year-old"
in particular because she made the trip to a Bandits game for her 12th
birthday and got to be center stage with some of the Bandits players
during a meet and greet after the game. Among the notables to sign the
softball she brought along with her: Bandits legends Jennie Finch and
"I remember looking up at those girls with total admiration," Marshall
said, reminiscent of the birthday experience. "They were who I looked up
to and wanted to be like. They were the professionals in the sport I
loved and I wished to be them one day when I grew up."
Marshall said neither Finch nor Galindo were her idols, growing up. That
title would belong to Natasha Watley, who Marshall has now competed
against in the NPF. Regardless, seeing the names of two NPF and national
icons in Finch and Galindo on that softball meant the world to her. In
fact, Marshall admitted that she still gets a bit star-struck when Finch
makes an appearance at the ballpark. Now, her role is reversed and she
is the one who the 12-year-olds look up to.
"I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that these
girls want my autograph," Marshall said. "I think I struggle with that
so much because I remember exactly how they feel and how excited they
get when they interact with me and all the other Bandit players."
Marshall, who scored 11 runs and swiped six bases in her rookie season,
said signing autographs for kids who admire her is the most gratifying
feeling she's ever had in her softball career.
As she continues to prepare for her second season with the Bandits,
Marshall shared her thoughts on the upcoming season.
"We have a lot of great pieces in place right now to where I believe we
are serious contenders for another Cowles Cup Championship," Marshall
said. "I think the city of Chicago deserves another year of housing the
_You can witness Marshall's continued journey with the Bandits and get
her autograph at a game this season. Single-game tickets for all 2016
home games, including the home opener on June 2 and the team's ring and
banner ceremony on June 18 are on sale now at www.chicagobandits.com 
or by calling the box office at 877-722-6348. _
photos Janos Schmidt