This is part of a series highlighting recent ACE participants who are finding meaningful ways to connect and build on their ACE experience beyond their three-week ACE summer program. After student-athlete participants complete their ACE summer, they are encouraged to think about a specific goal that connects their ACE experience to their life in a meaningful way. ACE staff support this process through the development of a personal ACE Action Plan and 1-1 coaching, group meetings, and check-ins throughout the year. Learn more about the ACE Plan Process and other ways ACE student-athletes are supported post-experience.
Julia Boyet and Lillie Walker, juniors on the Duke Women’s Softball Team and alums of ACE in Place Vietnam 2022, found a way together to take their virtual experience of ACE into an in-person event combining both service and sport.
The duo of Boyet and Walker knew that they wanted their team to be involved with whatever they did. They wanted Duke Women’s Softball to have a better connection to the greater Durham community. To accomplish this, they reached out to the Durham Little League Softball organization.
“We reached out to the Durham Little League Softball organization and asked them what they would see as being the most beneficial,” Boyet explained.
After planning together, Boyet and Walker’s idea came to life at the end of February 2023. In conjunction with Duke Women’s Softball and Durham Little League Softball, there was a two-and-a-half-hour clinic held on Duke’s campus for kids to play softball, meet the players, and of course, walk away with new, shiny autographs.
“We had 75 kids turnout, whose ages ranged from 8 and 12 years old. They came to our stadium and got to do drills, pitch, field, and hit alongside 12 of our Duke Softball players,” Walker said as she described the day.
“It was interesting to teach the kids because we had no idea about their skill level or interest. They were all just so eager to learn and play with us. It just felt so similar to what we saw when we worked with the Vietnamese children.”
Just like the work Boyet and Walker did with Coach for College during their virtual ACE in Place Vietnam experience, working with kids was at the forefront in creating this event. Not only did the day allow for young kids to connect with the sport, but it also brought the community together.
“It was interesting to teach the kids because we had no idea about their skill level or interest. They were all just so eager to learn and play with us. It just felt so similar to what we saw when we worked with the Vietnamese children,” both Boyet and Walker described.
This cross-culture connection culminated in the home run of an event in Durham but also helped set up future collaborations going forward. The team now wants to hold this event annually and build out the community connection. And as for Julia Boyet and Lillie Walker, the duo is now planning on going to Vietnam with ACE this summer in 2023 but in-person this time. After seeing what they could create with a virtual experience, we cannot wait to see their next grand slam after they continue to go for the good, together with ACE in Vietnam.