Whitney McKenzie loves being outside and helping her community when she can. PHOTO COURTESY WHITNEY MCKENZIE

For love of the game

Repeat volunteer works hard to make sure local softball league is running smoothly

Who in Big Sky loves softball?

Clearly there’s a lot of you. With over 200 players on 15 teams, the Big Sky Softball League is quite popular. Who do you think makes all that happen? The answer is volunteers. Just a small group of around five to six individuals run the Big Sky Softball League on their own time, for the love of the game. One of these individuals is co-commissioner Whitney McKenzie.

McKenzie began volunteering with the Big Sky Softball League three years ago. She originally began helping out with field work along with the rest of the committee. This included lining batters boxes and foul ground lines, along with making sure the games had umpires and scorekeepers. In 2020, her role grew significantly when she was asked to become co-commissioner of the league. She then became in charge of setting up the schedule and communicating with team managers. “Communication is a big component of it. The majority of that responsibility is communication,” McKenzie said.

The communication aspects include making sure team managers understand the rules, teaching new team managers the rules, supporting and clarifying things as teams are playing,along with helping interested players find a team.

McKenzie was in Big Sky long before her volunteering days with the softball league. She has lived in Big Sky ever since graduating from Montana State University and has been here for the past 12 years. Throughout that time she has worked as an elementary school teacher. The past four years she has worked at Ophir elementary, teaching both second and third grade. During that time, McKenzie has been a pretty active volunteer. She has volunteered for the school a lot over the years, helping with community and parent outreach, along with helping run various team sports at the school. McKenzie states that she enjoys volunteering because of the great feeling it provides and the inspiration she gets from the community, “I’m super inspired by my community,” McKenzie said.

The softball league is even more dear to her. McKenzie grew up playing and is still driven by her love of the game. She believes that outdoor activity is incredibly valuable for the adults of Big Sky. She also points to the league's social aspect as a big key of its importance as well, “I think it brings people together that have a connection already, but brings them closer by working as a team. Also it’s a great opportunity to come see your friends, and get out of your everyday routine and go and have some fun,” McKenzie said.

As an active volunteer and a person who truly loves her community, McKenzie hopes that everyone can get out and do their part in whatever way possible. “We all benefit from things we have in our community and need people to volunteer to keep those things up and going for us all to enjoy. The more that we all give back, the more we can take advantage of those things that really do matter,” McKenzie said

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