Student Spotlight: Maggie Heaphy

Student Spotlight: Maggie Heaphy

Kyri Antholis

Maggie Heaphy sits on the front row of the stadium bleachers, intently watching the girls soccer team face off against the Orange Hornets. A sling hangs from her right shoulder over her Charlottesville High School Baseball t-shirt and her black hair is covered by a cap. Despite her season being cut short due to her dislocated wrist that she got from diving for a ball in practice, she’s in high spirits as she shouts out cheers amidst our conversation. She just came from baseball practice, which she still attends to stay involved with her team and do her duty as a Junior Varsity captain, but she’s come to the soccer game to support some of her freshman friends. 

This is a historical year for Maggie and the Black Knights Baseball team. It’s Maggie’s first year at Charlottesville High School and her first year playing on a school team. This is also the first year that baseball has ever had a girl on their roster at C.H.S. While some questions arose regarding Maggie’s eligibility to play on the baseball team, nothing in the VHSL handbook prohibited her from doing so. Often, when girls aren’t allowed to play on boys’ teams, it’s because there is a female equivalent or vice versa. Softball is often regarded as the female equivalent of baseball, but in reality, they are two entirely different sports. 

Maggie admits that she gets asked why she’s not playing softball frequently. “Honestly I’m just not because it’s never really crossed my mind and I don’t think it should have to. I think they’re completely different sports, that’s why they have completely different names,” she says. “Softball is a great sport, but it’s just not for me. Baseball is for me. I’ve discovered that and that’s why I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve just never given up.” 

Maggie has been hitting baseballs her entire life, but she’s been on teams since she was about six. “My dad has always been a huge baseball fan and I’ve always loved watching it. So I just decided to be on a little league team and from there I’ve just never really stopped,” she tells me. “It’s a pretty common thing for girls to be in [Little League] for the first few years but as I got older it was just me.” Maggie is now the only girl on her travel team, but she is also on a national all-girls team called DC Force which has provided her with incredible opportunities like playing in Rockford, Illinois, where A League of Their Own originates and getting interviewed by the Washington Post. Socially, it’s also helped her a lot. 

“On the all-girls team, I don’t stick out. I feel like it’s normal, I feel like I’m a boy, you know? On an all-boys baseball team, I’m just the girl. On an all-girls baseball team, I’m like any other teammate. I love it. We all understand each other, we all get what we’re all going through,” she describes. She says that she’s best friends with a lot of her teammates and that they all share the experience of playing on all-boys teams outside of their national team, which has never been easy. 

Physically, there are obvious barriers that have to be overcome to play with boys. “I’m like 5’4”, I’m a little Asian girl, so I work out a lot more than I’m guessing a lot of people have to just to keep up physically,” Maggie says. But even after hitting all day or weight training twice as much to improve her baseball game, she also has to be stronger for a more difficult thing — her mental game. 

“Whenever I’m on the field, I’m alone. Even when I’m on the same team as people, I always stick out. There’s obviously a lot more pressure on me just to perform better, a lot more eyes on me,” Maggie says. But she also tells me that playing on the C.H.S. team this year has been a far easier experience. “In the past, it’s been really hard socially. A lot of people haven’t been nice to me, haven’t treated me like I’m one of them just because I’m a girl. But I really love this team. This is probably my favorite team that I’ve ever played on just because the people are so good to me and so nice.”

Maggie’s injury has her out for the rest of the season, but she’ll be back better and stronger next year. “Baseball is my thing, it’s what I love to do the most, it’s what I’m best at,” she says. “There’s nothing to predict. I have no idea where I’ll be in four years, baseball-wise. I just want to be playing for as long as I can, wherever that takes me.” She also encourages any other girl who finds a passion in baseball, or a passion somewhere else that isn’t always welcoming to girls, to take the chance. “You have to know yourself. If you want to be here, you deserve to be here. You’re good enough to be on that field, I know you are. It’s going to be hard, believe me, it’s not easy, people are going to tell you not to. But you have to believe in yourself.”