Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Hey there! First of all, thank you so much for visiting our page here at Players for Pits, NFP. I wanted my first editorial to be my introduction to you so you can learn a little bit about me and the charity you are supporting!
As of today, (June 14th, 2019) I am 32 years old, and despite some outsiders who may generalize me as just a "small little blond girl who smiles too much," I love a good challenge and I love being a career driven woman in a field I am passionate about. I started this rescue six years ago when I was a little younger, a little more naive, and a lot more serendipitous about live in general. At the time, I was dating a guy in the minor leagues for the St Louis Cardinal and I was working for FOX Sports, so I was pretty much consumed by the baseball life. Between my intern days at Comcast Sports Net and traveling the country to watch baseball, I learned a lot more about life than I anticipated in what was merely just a hobby and dream job at the time. Growing up baseball was my life. I faked sick from school every opening day to watch the game with my dad, and spent my summers at Sox games rooting for the Minnesota Twins. It was the influence of young Kid K throwing a 20 strike out game on a rainy Chicago day that won me over as a die hard Cubs fan and there was no turning back. I went on and spent my high school career playing softball year round and getting small after school jobs in order to buy Cubs tickets. Baseball started teaching me everything I needed about life and it led me on journey that still hasn't ended.
I fell in love with the Lovable Losers, the under dogs of baseball. The team that hadn't won a World Series since 1908. My dad warned me not to get too emotional when it came to the Cubs because they were cursed, and in baseball you don't challenge a curses's validity unless you want books and proverbs and a slew of evidence thrown at your face for proof. In high school I wrote most of my essays on the Baseball Gods, Ron Santo, and early players who defined the game like Rube Marquard, Ty Cobb and Sandy Koufax. I was enamored with the game, it's history, it's present and its future. That love led me to a life of learning to experience every day and every game for what it gave me in the present and always hoping for a better future. Every year we chanted "This is the Year" and every time came up short at the end of the season, we changed our chants to "There's always next year!". The pain of losing but the never ending optimism for the next year literally built me into the person I am today. I like any kid, experienced the ups and downs of life but no matter what there was always baseball. For 162 day of the year, rain or shine, a game would be on and the players would take the field and for a few hours nothing else matter. So when it came to a name, we decided on Players for Pits.
Rescue is not easy. Everyday dogs are euthanized around the world: good dogs, who don't get the chance or respect they deserve as a being on Earth with us. My first experience with rescue was when I was growing up and begged my family for a dog. Everyday I presented my parents with more information on why I should get a dog until finally my mom caved and we started looking around. I'll never forget going to this one pound in particular and walking in and literally being scared. It was like a dungeon. It was dark and sad and the chain link cages were rusted, but there was this little dog, Daisy, just sitting in a kennel. My mom said we were just going to look but I never got that dog out of my head. By the time we went back a few days later, she wasn't there. I remember being happy that she got out but sad it wasn't with me. I was only in 8th grade but I remember thinking, this place could be better. This didn't have to be a scary, bad place for dogs.
After that, we ended up getting a dog from someone giving away puppies and that dog was my best friend for the next 10 years. Charlie opened up my life even more to the rescue world. I noticed that when people would come pet him on walks they would always ask "where did you get him?" and to this day, I notice that's usually a beginning question in more dog to people intros on the street when meeting a cute little pupperoni. Now, this was literally 19 years ago and things were a lot different then. When people asked where you got your dog from the usual answer was "Oh gosh, this wonderful breeder in Wisconsin" or "This breeder in Iowa who has the best dogs". We didn't rescue our dog by any means, we just stumbled upon him and someone who didn't understand the concept of spay and neuter. But, I noticed the looks I got when I said he was a mix, like all of a sudden he wasn't as cool as their designer pooch.
Once I turned 16, I started volunteering at another local animal shelter. I was young so my main job was cleaning cat cages and getting to play with kittens. I remember there was this old grumpy cat in a bottom cage who has been there FOREVER. The staff loved him but no one would ever adopt him because the cat literally tried to kill everyone. I was always sad by that but spent as much time as I could trying to make his day a little better. Of course I asked my parents for him, but that was a big fat no. Apparently, they didn't want a cat that hated people. Annoying.
From 8th grade to post college, I spent a lot of my time looking up information about rescues and visiting centers to get my daily dog fix, while I just kept thinking "I could do this better." I never started a rescue to one up anyone and I never thought I knew anything more, I just had a vision that I could no longer push out of my daily thoughts and I started to make it happen when I had the platform to do so. I remember being in West Palm Beach at a Cardinals minor league game and I was talking to some other wives and girlfriends when one of them mentioned their rescued pit/boxer mix. I just remember thinking how amazing that was because her boyfriend was a high draft pick and if he made it to the majors that would be a huge thing for the world to see: a high caliber athlete with a pit bull as their family dog. Then I started thinking how much things could change if more athletes started advocating for these misrepresented dogs. Athletes have a way of connecting with the public and they are staples in peoples lives, and pit bulls had always captivated me.
I was on Facebook one day in the off season, just torturing myself by looking at a page dedicated to begging for help for local dogs at the city animal control, Chicago Animal Care and Control. I saw this tan little pittie posted with a "deadline". She was looking straight into the camera and her eyes just popped because it looked like she had eyeliner on. I decided to foster her, commented on her post offering to help and the next thing I knew my inbox was being flooded by strangers telling me if I was interested to contact so-and-so otherwise she would be killed. I knew nothing about this dog and never met her. Her post said she was good with dogs, cats and kids so I figured she had to be a good dog. Fast forward a week and this dog shows up at our house with a kennel and some lady I have never met before and we get a brief introduction to fostering and that was it. I remember being pretty scared of what I just committed to, completely overwhelmed, not sure what I got into, but then I looked at this tiny little dog and I realized she was scared, and overwhelmed, and probably confused, too. I stopped thinking about what I was feeling and I just thought to myself "this is about her now."
Miley helped me start Players for Pits six months later. Over that six month period I saw some pretty violent things that happen in the world. I saw some of the worst animal and human abuse I could have never imagined before and I saw it happening in our backyards in Chicago. I knew that my emotions would be tested daily, but this is something I was prepared for. While many may not see the correlation of growing up as a Cubs fan and then starting a pit bull rescue, for me it just made sense. I was raised in a very unique way in which I learned that even when you experience heartbreak, there is always the prospect of tomorrow.
When you have the prospect of a tomorrow, you know there is always another ballgame where anything can happen, even a miracle.