Monday night marked the first game of the USSSA Pride and Scrap Yard Dawgs’ summer series of matchups. It also likely marked the last of the teams’ partnership.
During the game, Scrap Yard Dawgs general manager Connie May posted a tweet on the Scrap Yard Dawgs’ team Twitter account. Alongside a photograph of the members of Scrap Yard’s roster that was taken during the national anthem, the tweet read, “Hey @realdonaldtrump Pro Fastpitch being played live @usssaspacecoast @USSSAPride Everyone respecting the FLAG!”
In 2016, then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, an action that inspired a number of athletes in various sports to do the same. Kaepernick’s method of silent protest has recently re-entered the spotlight during the current racial equality movement. A number of the Scrap Yard roster members have been outspoken in their support of the movement in recent weeks.
The tweet, which was removed shortly after being posted, was immediately and widely condemned. The Dawgs had nine members of Team USA on their roster for the summer, including former Florida great Kelsey Stewart, who is black. Stewart and former longtime Scrap Yard member Kiki Stokes are the only black players on the Scrap Yard roster.
Former Olympian Natasha Watley was one of the first to decry the Scrap Yard’s tweet during the game. Watley’s message has been shared nearly 600 times:
Seriously fuming right now😡🤬 @ScrapYardFP you are better than this! Haven’t we been going over this for the last 3 weeks? This is not funny at ALL! Has nothing to do with respecting the flag and ALL to do with respecting ALL Americans in this country regardless of color of skin pic.twitter.com/cdymUwWRsH
— Natasha Watley OLY (@natashawatley29) June 22, 2020
The Scrap Yard players were unaware of the tweet issued by their organization until after the game ended. At that time, many of the team’s players took to their own social media pages to speak out against the message.
…. I AM HURT … I am disgusted … as a BLACK softball player I DO NOT … DO NOT stand with a statement like this… if you didn’t understand racism and what was going on the last month. This .. THIS IS IT. This is EXACTLY what we’ve been trying to change pic.twitter.com/udoeaSJFwp
— Kelsey Stewart (@stewartkels7) June 23, 2020
Tonight we were misrepresented by Connie May who acted on behalf of @ScrapYardFP I’m appalled by the insentivity & will not represent Scrap Yard ever again. I’m so sorry to all my friends & teammates and the future softball players that are hurt by this. pic.twitter.com/39B1CaO9uh
— Aubree Munro Watson (@Aubree_Munro1) June 23, 2020
— Riley Sartain-Vaughan (@rileysartain) June 23, 2020
THIS ISN'T US! What has happened was incredibly inconsiderate, we do not condone, and will no longer be supporting @ScrapYardFP due to the actions taken behind our backs. This season was ment to be something special, to be a light in the darkness.
— Aubrey Leach (@aubrey_lynne10) June 23, 2020
— Cat Osterman OLY (@catosterman) June 23, 2020
I do NOT support the comments made by @ScrapYardFP and I will not associate myself with an organization that stands by those beliefs. BLACK LIVES MATTER. I will not be spoken for on this issue and I am appalled that after a game I was blindsided by something so disheartening.
— sam fischer (@samfischer52) June 23, 2020
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know what came from the team’s account does not represent me or reflect my beliefs. I love this game too much to stay quiet when something like this happens. I stand with my teammates &say with a full heart that BlackLivesMatter.
— Samantha Show (@SamanthaShow03) June 23, 2020
After the game, a number of the team’s roster members stated unequivocally their intention not to suit up for the Scrap Yard franchise again. Eleven of the team’s sixteen players made such statements within hours of the game’s end, a number that included softball legend Cat Osterman.
No official statement has been issued from the Scrap Yard organization as of 8 am on Tuesday morning; the team’s coaching staff, as well as team photographer Jade Hewitt, issued personal statements decrying the original tweet and its misrepresentation of the players on the team.
The team’s united front against May’s tweet and message, and their willingness to walk away from the organization at this point in time, underscores the individual players’ commitment to supporting their teammates and other athletes. The Pride/Dawgs series was to continue for most of the summer, and was set to be the only professional softball offering of the year, outside of the debut of the Athletes Unlimited league that is scheduled for early fall.
May’s actions following the backlash to the tweet raised some eyebrows late Monday night. The bio on May’s personal Twitter account included a phrase that read “Karma! It’s Real!” In the midst of the outcry following her tweet, May removed the phrase from her bio, only to add it back in the same space just hours later. According to reports, May later attempted to speak to the team about the tweet, but the players walked out.
Stokes, who remained publicly silent on Monday night, took to her personal Twitter account on Tuesday morning to issue a lengthy statement. Stokes was drafted by the Scrap Yard franchise when the team was still a member of the National Pro Fastpitch league, and had been one of the team’s most consistent players, and was seen by many as the face of the franchise.
I am so hurt but Hate and Ignorance will never win. pic.twitter.com/81tV29G4HH
— Kiki Stokes (@KStokes10) June 23, 2020