Growing up, Glenn Conklin was much more passionate about tennis than he was softball. Though he would tag along to practices and warm up with his younger sister, who was quite serious about the game, tennis was his main sport.
But times have changed. Though he eventually ended up competing in major junior tennis tournaments and attended the University of South Carolina on a Division I tennis scholarship, softball is now the sport Conklin is most invested in. In August he’ll travel to the Gay Games in Cleveland with the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League (CAPS), of which he’s enjoying his third season currently.
“I have become addicted to playing softball because of my teammates and the great friends I have made along the way,” the 35-year-old Warwick, N.Y., says. “Softball is wonderful because everything I do on the field is a shared experience with 15 or so other guys. We triumph together and we fall together. I have a great appreciation for the skill and talent it takes to play the sport and I keep coming back because I know the more I play, the better I will get. I have a great deal of room to get better.”
Conklin, by day a Human Capital Strategist for Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spends a lot of his free time playing softball. The CAPS, which came in ninth out of 50 teams in its division at the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance Gay Softball World Series held in Washington last summer, also have a travel team the Conklin co-formed with CAPS Commissioner Ed Vincent. Last year, members played tournaments in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Columbis, Ohio. This year, they’ll be in Philadelphia for Memorial Day weekend and in the Bourbon Street Classic in New Orleans in December, in addition to the Gay Games.
This will be Conklin’s first time at the Gay Games. He’s looking forward to what he hopes will be a “loud and proud contingent of (D.C.) athletes to represent our area.”
To prepare, he’s focusing on playing as much as possible in the months ahead, building up game speed and regular trips to the batting cages to work on hitting.
“Stamina and endurance are everything in a tournament that spans multiple days where you may need to play 10-15 games in the span of five days, so I will take cardio and endurance training more seriously this summer to make certain I am ready to play whenever I am needed,” Conklin says.
He also, of course, hopes to stay free of injury as well.
“I do seem to be more prone to injury than others,” he says. “One time as I was sprinting through first base, I clipped the first baseman’s leg, flew forward in a mid-air roll, banged my head on a rock and knocked myself unconscious. Who says softball is a non-contact sport?”
And as with any athlete going to a major tournament, he has envisioned what it would feel like to stand on the podium at Firestone Atadium in Akron, Ohio, hearing the National Anthem and winning a gold medal.
“I am looking forward to giving it 100 percent at the softball diamond and being a leader for my team,” he says. “I expect the competition to be focused and intense, but friendly. I am looking forward to spending time with my teammates and sharing this experience with them, and I am looking forward to making new friends from all over the globe.”